In the capital markets, a David and Goliath saga is underway about the stock price of the troubled GameStop supermarket store. Goliath walked away from war on Wednesday.
Really, two Goliaths.
A couple of specialist investment companies that have made huge bets that the stock of money-losing video game retailer GameStop would collapse have effectively accepted defeat. For now at least, the victor is a volunteer army of smaller investors who have been rallying together on Reddit and elsewhere to fund the stock of GameStop and beat the pros out.
After remaining below $18 just a few weeks earlier, GameStop’s stock soared as much as $380 on Wednesday morning.
In a YouTube video on Wednesday, one of the two big investors that surrendered, Citron Research, admitted that it unwound the bulk of its bet that GameStop stock would fall. Andrew Left, who runs Citron, said it took “a loss, 100%” to do so, but it doesn’t change his belief that the supply of GameStop will inevitably drop dramatically.
“We’re moving on. With GameStop, little has changed but the stock price,” said Left. He has said that he “has market respect,” which will momentarily raise stock prices higher than opponents believe they can.
Melvin Capital is also leaving GameStop, with CNBC being told by founder Gabe Plotkin that the hedge fund was suffering a huge loss. He dismissed reports that the hedge fund was going to collapse.
The scale of the damages that Citron and Melvin have suffered is uncertain.
The stock of GameStop has long been the focus of investors betting that their stock will collapse as it struggles to gradually go online in an industry. In the last 12 months, the retailer lost $1.6 billion and its shares plummeted for six consecutive years before rebounding in 2020.
That forced investors to sell short of the stock of GameStop. These short sellers effectively borrowed GameStop shares and sold them in hopes of eventually purchasing them back at a cheaper price and pocketing the difference. GameStop is one of Wall Street’s busiest stocks.
But its shares started rising sharply earlier this month after the company’s board was replaced by a co-founder of Chewy, the online retailer of pet supplies. The idea is that he would assist in the digital transformation of the business.
Around the same time, smaller buyers gathered on social media encouraged each other to try to drive the stock higher. There is no overriding explanation why GameStop attracted such smaller investors, but in online interactions, there is a distinct aspect of vengeance against Wall Street.
One user wrote on a Reddit thread about GameStop stock, “The hedge fund owners are crying as a result of us.” In this case, we have control, not everybody else, as long as we remain powerful! ”
Almost immediately afterward, another person screamed, “BUY AND HOLD WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS” in all capital letters.
For the key Wall Street players who shortened the stock, the fight produced major loses. When the stock of GameStop rose and some of the detractors got out of their bets, they had to purchase shares of GameStop to do so. That can speed up gains even further, generating a feedback loop. As of Tuesday, according to S3 Partners, damages have already peaked at $5 billion in 2021.
Most of Wall Street’s expertise remains sceptical that the portfolio of GameStop will hang on to its profits from the moonshot.
On Wednesday, analysts at BofA Global Research increased their price target for GameStop from $1.60, all the way up to $10. In midday session, it was at $362.
The pattern does not, however, seem to be fading.
The theatre chain that was devastated by the pandemic, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., reported a quarterly loss exceeding $900 million this month.
It seems, though, that in the clash between smaller institutional investors and Wall Street, AMC has become the next battlefield.
When trading started Wednesday, AMC stock spiked 260 percent and on Twitter #SaveAMC is trending.