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Why Intelsat Stock Bounced 10% Higher Today

By Rich Smith - Jan 31, 2020 at 5:04PM

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Good news: There's no new bad news.

What happened

After six straight days of increasingly disturbing declines, Intelsat S.A. (INTE.Q) yo-yoed itself back up out of the depths Friday, closing the day 9.6% higher than it began.

Unfortunately for the stock's enthusiasts, there was no good news to explain Intelsat stock's abrupt bounceback.

Bouncing basketball with a happy face on it

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

So what does explain Intelsat's 10% jump? Call me a cynic, but I think what we're seeing here today is short sellers covering their short bets against Intelsat -- buying back stock that they had previously sold short.

Nearly 30% of Intelsat's shares outstanding are currently sold short, which tells you this company has been a favorite to bet against. And with Intelsat having shed nearly 50% of its market cap over the past three days, a lot of those "investors" must be feeling anxious to lock in some of their profits.

Indeed, ShortSqueeze.com points out that today, the percentage of Intelsat stock sold short decreased by 1%. So we know that even if short covering isn't the whole story today, short covering is at least part of the reason that Intelsat stock went up.  

Now what

Just don't expect it to go up much more -- at least not until investors get some clarity on whether Congress will allow Intelsat to keep a bigger portion of the proceeds from the C-band spectrum it's preparing to sell to the 5G internet industry. Because as we learned pretty clearly earlier this week, letting Intelsat keep just $1 billion out of a potential $77 billion in proceeds simply isn't going to cut it.

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