So what is going on with GameStop stock? What has happened to the stock ticker NYSE: GME? Let’s break it down into layman’s terms and explain this roller coaster ride of a company.
GameStop Corp. went from being nearly bankrupt to seeing its shares up by 2,000% in less than a week — but how did it happen, what’s Reddit have to do with it, and is it even legal?
First, let us define some financial terms.
What Does This Have To Do With Hedge Funds?
Hedge Fund: A group of investors with large amounts of capital – think in terms of billions. These funds hire analysts to track trends in the market to “hedge” against changes in the future.
Point72 Asset Management, Melvin Capital, Citron Research, D1 Capital Partners, Maplelane Capital, and Candlestick Capital Management are all hedge funds that have suffered immense losses, some in the range of billions of dollars, due to the events that have unfolded around GameStop Corp.
How Does Short Selling Work?
Short Selling: Basically, you borrow a stock on credit, and sell it to someone else. Then, you offer to buy it back when the price decreases. Ultimately, you gain the difference in price and it has been the traditional way to gain money off a market crash or decline.
I’d recommend watching the movie The Big Short as it effectively delves into how short selling was pragmatically utilized during the Financial crisis of 2007–2008. The movie also helps to visualize how the economic collapse in America transpired.
In addition, it may be helpful to watch Season 1 Episode 4 of the HBO show Billions because the episode conveys a prime fictitious example of a short squeeze.
Short Squeeze: When two of these hedge funds get into a financial argument, one fund often shorts because they think the stock will go down, and one buys because they think it will go up. The one buying attempts to buy faster than the stock was dipping to put pressure on the shorter to buy back stock to cover its losses.
Okay, thank you for making it this far, very boring, I know.
GameStop Stock (GME) Frenzy
So what happened is there’s a group of individuals on Reddit that like to gamble on stocks (it is speculative gambling, some may argue investing, but advisors can assure you otherwise) called WallStreetBets (WSB). These guys are as young as 17 years old, using new apps like Robinhood that make investing cheap and easy.
WSB were tracking a regime change at GameStop (yes, that video game store). For those of you unfamiliar, GameStop is an American video game, consumer electronics, and gaming merchandise retailer.
GameStop Corp. got a new investor that wanted to change the business strategy there, citing management problems being the biggest issue for the failing company. The investor started working on developing an online presence for the company to buy/rent/sell games for better prices than they were currently offering. This amelioration took the price from about $4 per share in June/July of 2020 to upwards of $10 per share in August/September of the same year.
This was a problem though… “But stocks going up are good, right?” Right… Unless you were shorting the stock due to a guaranteed decline on the back of an outdated business model turning negative revenue.
That’s right, our old friends – those aforementioned hedge funds, had shorted GME upwards of 140% of the available GameStop stock. This was actually such a heavy short that it was contributing to the decline of the stock price up until the regime change.
Meanwhile, on the subreddit WSB, some of these guys figured it out, and began buying the stock, simultaneously encouraging others to buy as well. The stock even got an unexpected bump from Tesla’s / SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk’s tweet.
See, the hedge funds were so confident they could keep the price down, they did not anticipate a short squeeze, but a couple hundred thousand people on the Internet got together and began squeezing anyway. And squeezing, and squeezing until BOOM…
Suddenly, GME hits all-time highs $100, $150, $200, $300, and $400 per share. At its highest peak, the company was valued high enough to be in the Fortune 500. Yes, you read that correctly. GameStop in the Fortune 500! This is all occurring while GameStop’s physical stores are closing down from lack of business during a global pandemic.
This hit the hedge funds so hard that they borrowed (legitimately) almost 3 billion dollars to short against a couple hundred thousand guys on the Internet.
Some of these WSB guys (and teenagers) have made between $100k and $25 million. They are paying off student loans, medical bills, paying their way through college, etc.
And the hedge funds? Some of them are reporting a 100% loss (in the billions of dollars, mind you).
Why Is This Significant? Should I Care?
Why is this significant if there’s no way this can last? Yes, GME will go back down probably to $20 and there’s no way to tell when. It’s a ticking time bomb of a stock.
But, some of these same hedge funds were bailed out between 2008 and 2010 by the federal government. Guess what. These funds were just taken to the cleaners by a bunch of college-aged common folk with nothing but a free app and a Discord server so they could pay for college and also get rich.
Don’t let anyone tell you that this was some sort of illegal scheme or the poor fund managers are losing too much money. These games are played on Wall Street all the time. That’s just the way the system is set up. This anomaly proved that anything can happen.
How Much Money Are We Talking?
Here’s the original guy on Reddit posting his 20 MILLION DOLLAR gain in ONE DAY. For a grand total of 48 MILLION DOLLARS LEFT IN THE MARKET.
He bought 500 call contracts (100 shares per contract ) at $0.20 per share and bought 50,000 shares at about 15 dollars per share. For context, if the trend theoretically continued, GME would hit $2k per share in a few weeks, and he will have more money than the entire market cap of GameStop was worth in July 2020.
Where To Go From Here
In modern times, it feels like everyone is day trading or hitting the jackpot. Remind yourself to stay on your own investing course. Boring and slow often is the way to wealth. These market success stories that trickle into the mainstream media are there to grab your attention.
For every person that’s winning big, there’s also someone on the other side of that coin that may have lost their shirt. You rarely hear about those stories because they are not “newsworthy”.
Some people have higher risk tolerances than others. It’s ultimately up to you to determine whether you can stomach the volatility of some of these individual stocks. Is it worth the stress? Can you sleep soundly at night?
As for FLA, we are going to continue touting the index funds that have produced sound returns since the beginning of the stock market. The great news is that we don’t have to be the world’s greatest investor to benefit from this phenomenon. I mean, if FLA lucked his way into this, I think the rest of us will do just fine.
With some of the index funds, you can also rationalize that you do in fact own a small portion of GameStop via the index, along with every other stock in the U.S. market. At least, that’s how I help myself sleep at night.
With enough time and patience, nearly every investment you hold can turn into a money printing machine. And that’s when the compound interest starts to go crazy.
End Game for GameStop Stock
The GameStop C-Suite and board of directors are indeed shareholders of GME and are most likely in awe of their stock’s dramatic increase. We can be sure they have had intense meetings to decide on the next company maneuver.
As of the recent short squeeze, there are simply not enough shares of the GameStop stock to meet the demand in the market. That’s exactly why the stock has skyrocketed. But if GameStop can fill this gap, by raising capital, selling stock, and supplying shares to the market, then they will make a hefty profit.
However, given that the shareholder base is a bunch of teenagers from a subreddit, GameStop should know better not to take money from these people at $200+ per share, let alone the huge commissions that will probably go to Wall Street in a capital raise like this.
All in all, this business is unlikely to support such a high valuation. GameStop is not suddenly the new Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, or Google. It’s still mostly a business that derives its value from brick and mortar stores in malls. If you look around, you know that this is not exactly a big growth area in the coming years.
The WSB community has made a quick buck from the power of technology and online forums, but will it change the way Wall Street operates in the future? I doubt it. To be determined.
These amateur investors have also targeted other heavily shorted names including AMC Entertainment and Bed Bath & Beyond, leaving Wall Street analysts’ targets in the dust.
Robinhood has now restricted users from buying GameStop, AMC, BlackBerry, Nokia stock to stop the madness. I do not see how Robinhood remains unscathed after limiting its users like this.
Disclosure: I / We have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. This site does not receive direct compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
What are your thoughts on the GameStop frenzy? Let me know in the comments below.