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Meme Stocks Make a Shocking Comeback, Shaking the Short Seller Market


Michael Chen

May 14, 2024 - 15:52 pm


A Surprising Resurgence: Meme Stocks' Astonishing Comeback Unleashes Short Seller Turmoil

(Bloomberg) -- This week witnessed an unforeseen twist in the intricate world of stock trading as speculators who placed bets against some of the market’s most heavily-shorted stocks experienced significant losses, marking a remarkable resurgence of the "meme stock" phenomenon.

A notable manifestation of this sudden shift was evident in a Goldman Sachs basket which strategically positions itself long on stocks preferred by hedge funds while betting against the 50 most-shorted stocks. This financial instrument suffered a harsh decline of approximately 13% throughout the past two sessions, an event unseen since the peak of the retail trading craze in 2021.

Encapsulating this dramatic development was the unexpected surge in stocks that became renowned amidst the day-trading community, with companies like GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. at the forefront. Their valuation soared, with each company witnessing more than a 70% increase in the prior session. This upswing catalyzed a broader rally in enterprises facing significant short interest.

Emphasizing the profound impact of these movements, bearish speculators targeting GameStop and AMC have confronted over $1 billion in mark-to-market deficits just in the month of May. According to S3 Partners LLC, a financial analytics firm, GameStop short sellers have been handed a staggering $1.24 billion loss, while their counterparts at AMC have incurred approximately $126 million in losses.

It's worth noting that the majority of these financial setbacks for short sellers are attributed to the substantial run-up in "meme stock" prices particularly within the latter two sessions.

Ihor Dusaniwsky, Managing Director of Predictive Analytics at S3 Partners LLC, illuminated the predicament of short sellers in his recent report. He emphasized that the losses faced today are potent enough to disorient short sellers and coerce them into relinquishing their positions. He highlighted the predicament faced by AMC short sellers in particular, with their profits for the year and the month dissipating rapidly.

The Mechanics of Short Squeezes and Gamma Squeezes

When discussing the predicament of those betting against meme shares a phenomenon known in market parlance as a 'short squeeze' becomes critical to understand. A short squeeze is triggered when rapidly rising stock prices compel those who bet on a stock's decline to purchase shares to cover their short positions, often incurring losses. Such activities can drive share prices even higher, exacerbating the plight of other short sellers.

Moreover, the increase in meme stock prices also seems to have initiated what is called a 'gamma squeeze'. This occurs when a rise in stock prices incites traders to acquire call options, which in turn necessitates market makers to purchase the underlying stock to hedge their positions, further propelling share prices upward.

The Ripple Effect Beyond Meme Stock Giants

The upswing in heavily-shorted stocks persisted into Tuesday's trading session, its influence radiating beyond the borders of the well-established retail darlings. Shares of companies like SunPower Corp. saw a remarkable rise of 92%, a record for intraday trading. Additionally, BlackBerry Ltd. and Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. also experienced their share of the bonanza, with their stock prices escalating by up to 24% and 36%, respectively. Even Trump Media & Technology Group Corp., recently embraced by retail traders, enjoyed a more subdued yet noticeable 6.9% appreciation in value.

For those interested in exploring the dynamics of the spike in SunPower Corp.'s stocks and the resulting meme frenzy, follow the link here.

A Flashback to 2021's Trading Madness

During the trading frenzy, GameStop shares soared beyond expectations, doubling at the market open and reaching heights not attained since the memorable 2021 meme stock burst. Concurrently, AMC's stock also climbed sharply, reaching an upwards spike of 129%.

Despite the turbulent trading, these companies, including others riding the high short-interest wave, presently stand well below their historical zeniths witnessed back in 2021.

Is the Meme Trade Spectacle Here to Stay?

Amidst the latest rollercoaster rides in the stock market, Dusaniwsky postulates that the meme trade's resurgence signifies potential volatility for short sellers in stocks such as GME, AMC, and DJT. He conjectures that as stock prices soar, these short sellers edge perilously close to the metaphorical precipice of a 'short squeeze cliff.'

Despite the recent run-up in prices, caution is still the watchword as this wild momentum has the potential to draw in more short sellers into the fray. It is, however, essential to remember that firms like GameStop and AMC are still trading at values significantly below their peak levels during the 2021 height of the meme craze.


In conclusion, the recent activities in the stock market serve as a stark reminder of the profound impact that retail traders can wield when they coordinate en masse. The meme stock saga has not just entailed dramatic gains for the companies at the heart of the matter but also played a pivotal role in shaping market behaviors and influencing financial outcomes across the board.

It's a script that's as unpredictable as it is enthralling, with market watchers, professional traders, and the ever-expansive community of day traders all keenly monitoring these financial instruments that have become more than just stocks—they've evolved into cultural phenomena unto themselves. Whether this revival is a mere anomaly or the harbinger of a more enduring trend remains an open question, one that will only be answered in the fullness of time.

2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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