(Bloomberg) -- The meme-stock revival was over almost as quickly as it began.

GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. — the poster children of 2021’s frenzy — saw shares surge at the start of the week only to fizzle, with the bulk of those gains erased just days later. Other speculative corners of the market, mainly beaten-down stocks that have drawn the scrutiny of short-selling hedge funds, saw their booms mostly go bust while the broader US stock market powered to record highs.

Read MLIV Pulse: Meme-Stocks Pop Signals Too Much Froth in Stocks

An X post from Keith Gill — one of the masterminds behind the Covid-era spike in GameStop, better known as “Roaring Kitty”— set social media platforms abuzz into Monday morning as traders, both amateur and professional, pounced on old day-trading standbys and other stocks that seemed susceptible to a short squeeze. However, unlike the 2021 delirium that lasted weeks and resulted in congressional hearings and lawsuits, the revival of meme stocks was a flash in the pan.

With the rally quickly losing its shine, AMC shares have slipped more than 60% from an $11.88 intraday year-to-date high while GameStop gave back almost all of its gains. The differences between the two frenzies — if you can call the latest iteration that — were quickly apparent. In 2021, GameStop soared more than 1,000% in a matter of days, making this week’s peak look tame as the pair only held onto mere double-digit gains for the week.

Still, a more than 100% rally over four weeks is nothing to completely shrug off for the video-game retailer. The stock has put together four consecutive weeks of gains, adding some $3.6 billion over that stretch, though it’s still more than 80% below a 2021 high. 

Both companies moved to capitalize on the rallies to shore up their cash reserves this week. GameStop arranged to sell up to 45 million shares in a so-called at-the-market program, enabling its bank to create shares for sale, with the proceeds being added to its balance sheet.

For AMC, the beleaguered movie chain was able to raise more than $250 million through share sales and a debt-for-equity swap though it still faces more than $4 billion in debt, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. This week’s gains look like a blip given it’s still down some 90% over the past 12 months.

An aspect of 2024’s meme stock moment is how fleeting it was and the lack of follow-through from retail traders. Yes, GameStop saw more than 10-times its recent average number of shares traded at the start of the week while AMC had more than 1.7 billion shares change hands over the five-day span, but the notional value is nothing compared to 2021.

Even with the jump in volume, activity for retail traders on things like Fidelity’s platform was a fraction of levels seen three years ago with retail traders placing sell orders roughly matching those that were placed to buy.

Options markets also whipsawed traders, with short-term GameStop and AMC prices implying well over 500% annualized volatility at one point, before dropping to about half that by week’s end. Even as shares retreated below $40, some traders were buying GameStop calls that would only pay out if the stock rocketed back up above $128 by Friday. 

The sky-high costs attracted the attention of noted bond trader Bill Gross, who said he sold so-called straddles on both companies, betting the wild swings would become more muted.

The rally in AMC and GameStop ate away at profits for short sellers, traders who gain on a stock’s decline, meaning billions in paper losses for the group as the stocks surged. Of course, those losses were partially reversed when the shares fell back to earth. 

The exuberance for the top meme stocks lifted shares of other companies that are also popular with the retail crowd and often trade more on sentiment than fundamentals. This group — which includes Tupperware Brands Corp., Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. and Lucid Group Inc. — has high short interest as a percentage of float, meaning that contrarian traders have borrowed most available shares to bet against them. 

With the markets placid once again, some of the companies that got lifted in the meme-stock resurgence remain beaten down over the past year.

Take Faraday Future Intelligent Electric Inc.; shares have surged about 2,000% this week, but are still down some 98% over the last 12 months.

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