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Mar 26, 2021

GameStop's tumult lives on with US$6.4B roller coaster trip

Notable Calls: Loblaw, GameStop and Crescent Point Energy


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GameStop Corp. is ending the week lower than where it started, even after retail investors refused to let go of their commitment to the stock following an earnings-related selloff.

Investors were quick to get over GameStop’s 12th consecutive quarter of slowing sales and management’s decision to not take questions on its earnings call on Tuesday, despite warnings from most Wall Street analysts. On Thursday, shares erased the earnings-led slump. More than US$6.4 billion in market value was whipsawed from Monday’s intraday high of US$210.36 to a bottom of US$118.62 on Wednesday.

That tumultuous ride lived on as the week drew to an end. The stock initially jumped as much as 19 per cent on Friday before erasing gains to fall as much as 11 per cent. After swinging between gains and losses the stock dipped to cap off a 9.6 per cent drop in five days, its second straight losing week. The shares are up 861 per cent so far this year compared to a 5.8 per cent gain for the S&P 500.

GameStop bulls are leaning into activist investor and board member Ryan Cohen’s ongoing shakeup. Cohen has become a cult-like figure for investors populating social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit, and his push to turn the retailer into a tech giant has amassed hordes of eager traders.

Analysts warned that fundamentals matter little for investors and the company’s overhaul faces considerable challenges.

“The turnaround story will be extremely difficult for GameStop to deliver on and right now shares are acting like they have already been successful,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at Oanda. “The GameStop stock party is lasting longer than anyone expected, but eventually should trade sub-US$100 a share.”

Total trading volume during Thursday’s rebound topped the cumulative activity seen in the three-day selloff, meaning investors who were eager to buy the dip and trade on the way up were far greater than the sellers looking to cash out or short the stock after earnings. The retail traders who love to talk up their diamond hands cheered as the company continued to make changes to its board and bring in industry veterans to help reshape the business.

Other stocks that have captivated retail traders were also choppy Friday after snapping losing streaks alongside GameStop. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. slumped 6.4 per cent, reversing an initial jump of 5.4 per cent, while headphone maker Koss Corp. sank 18 per cent.

The group of meme stocks have continued to be unloved by Wall Street analysts who cover the companies. GameStop is not recommended by any analysts and has three holds and four sell ratings -- with the average price target implying a 75 per cent drop. While AMC has no buys, five holds, and four sell ratings and an average 12-month target that’s two-thirds below Friday’s level.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who rates GameStop at underperform, said in an email that the lack of a question-and-answer portion during its earnings call was a “bad look.”

However, at least one GameStop analyst boosted her price target to stand out from a sea of skeptics. Jefferies’s Stephanie Wissink, who rates the stock at hold, raised the firm’s price target to a Wall Street-high US$175 from US$15, citing an ability to rival digital peers if its transformation is successful.

“Changes in leadership at the board, executive, and operational levels are signals of a full reimagining of GameStop’s enterprise model,” Wissink wrote in a March 24 report. She noted that shares are “subject to volatility beyond fundamentals.”

It is worth noting that the Grapevine, Texas-based retailer has been considering whether it should should sell new shares and possibly increase the size of a current program to sell stock at prevailing market prices. The company signed a deal in December with Jefferies to sell as much as US$100 million in stock, according to a filing. However, that agreement was reached when shares were worth less than 10 per cent of their current value. A spokesperson for Jefferies didn’t respond to a request for comment.