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Many people like to follow what hedge funds and institutions are buying, selling and shorting. So I began looking over some patent companies that have had changes in short interest. These companies are VirnetX Holding Corp. (NYSEMKT:VHC), Vringo Inc. (NASDAQ:VRNG), ParkerVision Inc. (NASDAQ:PRKR) and MGT Capital Investments (NYSEMKT:MGT).

Short interest is an indicator of what short sellers think about a particular stock. If short interest increases, then shorts are betting that the price of the security will be going down. However, if short interest decreases, then shorts are betting that the price of the security is coming to a bottom and will likely be going back up.

Many investors use short interest to make predictions about the direction of a particular stock and to measure the bullishness or bearishness of it. Below is a table of the short interest increases and decreases of the following companies.

Settlement Date VHC VRNG PRKR MGT
6/14/13 15,785,100 16,480,404 18,233,654 402,800
5/31/13 15,290,155 16,453,859 18,334,622 534,360
5/15/13 15,661,194 17,053,167 18,012,352 338,958
4/30/13 15,608,337 17,722,342 18,043,002 261,371
4/15/13 16,054,714 17,203,292 18,377,341 64,257
3/28/13 15,190,749 15,913,760 17,671,119 35,864
3/15/13 16,611,974 15,268,817 17,129,070 42,727

As you can see from the table above, short interest has been increasing in some patent stocks while decreasing in others. There could be many different reasons as to why, so a good question to ask yourself in this situation is what do the shorts know that you don't? Let's take a look at the companies to see what has transpired for the increase as well as the decrease in short interest.

VirnetX

VHC has a market cap currently of $1.01 billion with its most recent closing price of $19.67. VHC has over $38 million in cash and no debt. As of June 14th, 2013, VHC had short interest of 15.78 million, representing an increase of 500K since May 30, 2013. The short float now stands around 37% with the days to cover ratio at 27.7 days. Analysts have an average price target of $50.00 on VHC, which would reflect an increase of over 150% from its recent closing price of $19.67.


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* Values are in the millions


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One quote that I will never forget from Warren Buffett was when he said, "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful." One way we can look into that is to measure the Relative Strength Index, or RSI. The RSI measures momentum on a scale of zero to 100. A stock is considered to be oversold if the RSI reading falls below 30 and is considered overbought if it surpasses 70.

Shares of VHC entered into oversold territory on Tuesday, when it's RSI reading came under 30. Investor's could take this as a sign that the recent selling pressure is winding down, and begin to look for an entry point on the buy side.

With such a high short interest, VHC has the potential to pull off a major short squeeze. Look no further than VHC's recent history and you can see the major potential it has. However, investors should be warned that not everything goes the right way. Just a couple of months ago, VHC lost a case against Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) and shares dropped more than 50% over the next couple of days.

Vringo

Vringo has a market cap currently of $247.42 million with its most recent closing price of $2.99. Looking over Vringo's financials we can see that they have over $49 million in cash and no debt. As of June 14th, 2013, Vringo had short interest of 16.48 million, which represents a decrease of 500K or 4% shares since May 15, 2013. The short float now stands around 23% with the days to cover ratio at 16.28 days. Analysts have an average price target of $5.50 on Vringo, which would reflect an increase of over 84% from its recent closing price of $2.99.


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Last week I wrote an article talking about the recent insider purchase of Noel Spiegel and why shareholders of Vringo should feel confident in their investment. Just two days later, Chief Financial Officer (NASDAQ:CFO) Anastasia Nyrkovskaya joined the party as she recently purchased 7,000 shares of Vringo at $2.93.

Date Company Shares Price Total Shares Ownership
6-21-13 Vringo 7,000 $2.93 $20,509 32,000
6-18-13 Vringo 15,000 $3.00 $45,000 35,000

One of the main reasons why Ms. Nyrkovskaya was brought on board to team Vringo was because of her experience in structuring M&A transactions and partnerships. It didn't take long for Nyrkovskaya to make her presence felt as in less than a month of her hiring, Vringo and Microsoft reached a settlement deal.

It's crazy to think that Nyrkovskaya as well as Mr. Spiegel of Vringo, with four months combined experience between the two, feel so confident in Vringo's future that they are willing to put down their own money.

Vringo's shareholders have to be ecstatic with what is taking place, as well as feeling some relief and reassurance about their investment in Vringo now. The fact that Mr. Spiegel has an astounding track record with his investments goes to show you that he doesn't just throw his money down the drain. He has proven that he knows what to do with his money when he feels that a stock is undervalued. Just look at the table below that shows Spiegel's return if he were to cash out on his investments right now. Not a bad return right?

Date Company Shares Price Total Return
6/18/13 Vringo 15,000 $3.00 $45,000 N/A
5/4/12 Radian Group 10,000 $2.289 $22,894 558%
11/22/11 Radian Group 10,000 $2.20 $22,000 578%
8/26/11 American Eagle Outfitters 10,000 $10.40 $104,000 80%

Over the years I have learned that some insiders trades are more important than others. Within a large company key executives like the CEO and CFO know more about the company than directors and such. However, because Vringo is such a small company, virtually all insiders are in the know about the company. That's why I find it meaningful that Insiders are purchasing shares at these levels.

It is also good to remember that one insider trade does not make a trend. Having a couple of insider purchases on the other hand provides a better indication that something good is in the works. With already two insider purchases over the last couple of days it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see more insider purchases come to pass. However, following the lead of insiders, will never replace diligent research that investors need to do before investing.


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* Values are in the millions

Vringo's short interest, has relatively stayed the same over the last two weeks. Some of the reasons why the share price hasn't moved is the fact that all eyes are waiting on Judge Jackson's ruling. While we don't know when that decision will come, based on my analysis I expect that Judge Jackson will likely make his decision between now and the next two weeks.

Another catalyst going forward for Vringo is the fact Vringo announced that it is set to join the Russell 3000 and Russell Global Indexes when Russell finalizes its U.S. and global equity indexes on June 28, 2013. While some investors don't think to highly of the Russell Indexes, I feel that the attention Vringo will receive from an even broader range of investors will help push its stock higher.

As you can see, Vringo has the potential to trigger a major short squeeze. Vringo has already delivered such an event last year for investors and looks to be gearing up to do the same this year. Shorts have played Vringo well shorting every pop over the last couple of months however, shorting Vringo at these levels isn't the brightest idea as there are many positive things going Vringo's way. I could think of countless other stocks to short right now that would be a better play than Vringo.

ParkerVision

ParkerVision has a market cap of $385.37 million with its most recent closing price of $4.36. ParkerVision also has over $17 million in cash with only 27K in debt. As of June 14th, 2013, ParkerVision had short interest of 18.23 million, representing an increase of 200K or 2% since May 15, 2013. The short float now stands around 21.68% with the days to cover ratio at record levels of 35.64 days. ParkerVision has a price target of $11.75, which would reflect an increase of over 170% from its recent closing price of $4.36.

ParkerVision's short interest has been rising for over a year now. Last time this year, ParkerVision had short interest of 9.7 million shares. Today ParkerVision's short interest has soared to over 18.2 million shares, representing an increase of over 9 million shares or 90%.


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* Values are in the millions


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From a technical standpoint ParkerVision looks to be trending higher as it looks to test the $4.50 range. Once it can clear that on some strong volume, shares should rise quickly to $5.00 and make a new 52-week high.

MGT

MGT has a market cap currently of $29.83 million with its most recent closing price of $4.92. Looking over MGT's financials we can see that they have over $2.68 million in cash and no debt. As of June 14th, 2013, MGT had short interest of 402K, which represents a decrease of 100K or 25% of shares since May 30, 2013. The short float now stands around 8% with the days to cover ratio at 3.7 days.


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* Values are in the hundred thousands


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From the charts we can see that MGT looks to be settling in the $4.50 -- $5.00 range. Investors who have a position in this range should pay close attention to volume increases or decreases as MGT could quickly fall back to the $4.00 level or rise back over $5.00.

NYSE & NASDAQ Short Interest Total

Looking over a couple of stocks will not tell us the whole story of what is going on in the market. So let's take a look at what is taking place over at the Nasdaq. From the updated short interest numbers, we can see that short interest has increased to 7.57 billion shares as of June 15, 2013 compared to 7.48 billion back on May 30, 2013.

The New York Stock Exchange Group, Inc. based on information received from its members and organizations, had short interest increase as well to 13.88 billion as of June 14, 2013 compared with 13.41 billion on May 30, 2013.


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Looking over both the Nasdaq and NYSE figures we can see that short interest is back on the rise again. I wasn't really surprised to see this as many investors take the 'sell in May go away' theory to heart. While May turned out to be better than most expected, June has been quite the roller coaster ride for many investors amid the global uncertainty.

Conclusion

Because these are speculative stocks with a high percentage of short interest, investors can be sure to count on lots of volatility and wild price swings. News of any sort can send these stocks flying or sliding. Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper diligence on any stock mentioned in this article. Have a great day and as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts or questions that you might have.

Disclaimer: The information I used in this article came from the Nasdaq, CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, Scottrade, Finviz and The Wall Street Journal.

Source: Short Interest Figures, Insider Trading And Why Shorts Are Playing With Fire In These Patent Plays