Should Investors Be Wary of Wall Street Bets Against Tech?


The short interest in some major technology stocks has increased sharply in recent weeks. The short sellers' view may make sense since these companies have helped drive the NASDAQ recovery.

According to data from the NASDAQ through March 15, the short interest in router giant Cisco Systems (CSCO) rose by 12% to 62.6 million shares. There has been growing concern that the market for the company's routers has slowed along with capital expenditures at big cable and telecom companies. Cisco has entered the consumer market with set-top boxes and video conferencing, but these businesses are not likely to offset the firm's enterprise systems.

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Short sellers have also increased their positions in semiconductor companies, particularly Nvidia (NVDA), Applied Materials (AMAT), and Micron Technologies (MU). All trade near their 52-week highs. The stocks would be pushed down if demand for chips, which run consumer and enterprise technologies, fell. Nvidia is one of the world's largest suppliers of graphic chips and its short interest rose over 25% on March 15 to 27.9 million shares.

The last important tech sector that has experienced a large increase in short selling is consumer entertainment. The short interest in TiVo (TIVO) has risen sharply. The company is viewed as an "also ran" in the home-video equipment business. But shares sold short in Sirius XM (SIRI), Electronic Arts (ERTS), and video-game producer Activision Blizzard (ATVI) are also higher. Sirius is the most shorted stock of all, with 255.4 million shares sold short.

Tech, it would seem, is in the sights of short sellers.

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