News

GameStop’s stock surge has calmed down — so why are investors buying its shares again?

GameStop shares have gone soaring again. The Texan computer games retail chain at the heart of the stock market drama at the end of January surged from US$44 (£32) to a high of around US$200 on February 26 before sliding back to US$120 at the time of writing. Institutional investors who had “short positions” against the stock, meaning that they were betting it was going to go down, were said to have racked up nearly US$2 billion losses from the rises.

Other stocks involved in the first wave of retail trading mania such as cinema group AMC Entertainment have followed a similar trajectory, doubling at one point and still almost 50% up on the calm of a few days earlier. So why are investors buying these stocks again?

The army of millions of investors from Reddit’s WallStreetBets community pushed GameStop shares from US$20 to US$480 during the January “short squeeze”, in which they drove hedge funds like Melvin Capital into heavy losses, after forcing them to liquidate massive bets against the stock.

As the GameStop price fell back in early February, many of these small investors were counting their losses. There have since been countless debates over the mania, including a congressional hearing in the US on February 18.

The recriminations

Online trading apps at the center of the buying frenzy, such as Robinhood, have been variously accused of making it too easy for amateurs to take wild risks, enabling market manipulation, risking the financial stability of the wider system, and siding with hedge fund backers Citadel by heavily restricting buying in the stocks in question after prices rocketed.

Over the latter issue, multiple users filed lawsuits against Robinhood and Citadel, though according to a clause in Robinhood’s customer agreement, all disputes are to be settled in arbitration and not in the civil court system. Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev has denied the allegations, offering his own explanation at the congressional hearing.

Credit: House Financial Services Committee /