GameStop’s Reddit Crowd Awaits Earnings Report After Driving Up Stock This Year
(Bloomberg) -- GameStop Corp.’s results may not mean much to Wall Street, but don’t tell that to the group of retail traders who have fueled this year’s 835% surge in the stocks on hopes chairman Ryan Cohen can deliver a major turnaround.
When the video-game retailer holds its earnings call postmarket on Wednesday, the Reddit crowd will tune in hoping to get an update on its ongoing transformation from brick-and-mortar store into e-commerce giant. If Cohen himself gives the update, even better. But the GameStop chairman, who is also the co-founder of online pet supplies retailer Chewy Inc., hasn’t been talking much.
After announcing efforts to shake up operations and hire a new management team earlier this year, Cohen has provided scant detail on what lies ahead for GameStop. Other than a few cryptic tweets over the past few months, the last time Cohen addressed investors was during an appearance at the company’s annual meeting in June, when he said his team was “putting the right pieces in place.” Over the last three earnings calls, in March, June and September, the GameStop team took no questions.
“The only thing that can matter is if Cohen reveals his strategy,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter who rates the stock as a sell. Still, Pachter said he doesn’t expect much of an update during the call since the company hasn’t scheduled a separate conversation with him, which it has done “every quarter of their existence” until this year.
A representative for GameStop didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Cohen will address investors after the release of quarterly results. The company is expected to report a third-quarter adjusted loss per share of 52 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, but Pachter said the earnings “don’t matter at all” at a time when the focus is on the strategy for the future.
Pachter is among the three Wall Street analysts who still have ratings on the stock, down from nine a year ago. Ascendiant Capital Markets’ Edward Woo also has a sell recommendation on GameStop, while Jefferies analyst Steph Wissink has a hold. Their average 12-month price target is $88.
Will They or Won’t They?
Baird analyst Colin Sebastian, who suspended his rating in June, has raised the question of whether management would take any questions. In a Dec. 7 note titled “Will they or won’t they?” he wrote that he expects an upbeat tone in the release that will reflect healthy demand for key hardware platforms.
The Grapevine, Texas-based GameStop is a poster child of the so-called meme stock phenomenon that has captivated Wall Street this year, but the lack of clarity on the turnaround strategy, combined with a broad selloff in risk assets, has weighed on GameStop shares. The stock is down 29% from the most recent high on Nov. 22.
As with many meme stocks, the market’s reaction to the results will largely be a factor of how holders perceive the update in place of the fundamental news. The Reddit crowd fueled GameStop earlier this year partly as a revolt against short-sellers, with many acknowledging that current levels are disconnected from fundamentals.
To be fair, bets on the company have paid off handsomely, with a 835% rally that far exceeds the 63% gain for a basket of 37 meme stocks tracked by Bloomberg. The stock was trading 0.8% lower to $176.43 at 1:48 p.m. in New York.
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