GameStop shares double after tumbling for much of February

KNWA

FILE – In this Jan. 28, 2021, file photo, pedestrians pass a GameStop store on 14th Street at Union Square, in the Manhattan borough of New York. The recent GameStop frenzy provided what parents and educators call a teachable moment – an opportunity that presents itself to lend a little insight. The Associated Press talked to a few parents and financial experts for their tips, and included in their advice was teaching kids early on about money, keeping the discussions simple but interesting and letting kids practice investing. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Wall Street’s mania over GameStop is on again, at least for one afternoon.

Shares in the troubled video game company more than doubled Wednesday to $91.71 apiece, the stock’s best day since Jan. 27, when it was going for $347.51 a share.

A rally in GameStop has been rare this month. The stock, which soared 1,600% at one point in January, is down nearly 72% so far this month, though it’s still up nearly 387% this year.

Shares in AMC Entertainment, another stock hyped by online social media forums, jumped 18.1%. The movie theater chain’s stock is up nearly 60% this month and about 329% this year.

The sudden, sharp move higher in GameStop and AMC Entertainment left even some members of Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, which helped cheer the stocks’ meteoric rise last month, scratching their heads.

“Can we honestly sound off on what we think is happening?” wrote one Redditor. “Is there any reason for this 150% spike??” asked another.

GameStop’s wild ride shocked Wall Street, forcing the market to gird for more volatility. It prompted Congress to hold a House hearing last week into what led to the frenzy and whether smaller investors need to be shielded from taking big risks.

Individual investors on Reddit and other social media forums encouraged each other to buy GameStop, AMC Entertainment and select other stocks in a bid to hurt hedge funds that were betting the stocks would lose value. The move, known as a “short squeeze,” can lead traders who were using options to bet against a stock to abandon their bets. To do so, they have to buy shares of the stock, which pushes the price even higher.

GameStop was an extreme example because some of its shares had been sold short multiple times.

Gust Kepler, CEO of stocks and options platform BlackBoxStocks, said that he became aware around 3:30 EST Wednesday of “aggressive buying” of call options on GameStop shares. A call option gives a trader the right to buy a stock at a certain price at a later date.

“I am not certain that there’s another short squeeze going on like the one before, however, there are probably some funds who stayed short assuming the dust would settle,” Kepler said.

Another possible reason for GameStop’s sharp move: The Grapevine, Texas, company announced Wednesday that its chief financial officer will be resigning on March 26.

“The CFO exited the company and there’s talk of the company finally transforming from a brick and mortar to deploying their product in a digital way, and this is why we believe the stock shot up at the end of the day today,” Kepler said.

Some of the traders who bid up GameStop’s shares last month cited optimism that new board member Ryan Cohen, the founder of online pet store Chewy, would help turn the struggling retailer’s fortunes around.

The company has been struggling to adapt to the rise of mobile gaming and digital downloads that have rendered its more than 5,000 stores obsolete, even more so during the pandemic.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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