Exclusive: GameStop initiates search for new CEO-Sources

(Reuters) – GameStop Corp is looking for a new chief executive to replace George Sherman as it pivots from being a brick-and-mortar video game retailer to an e-commerce firm, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday.

It would be the biggest shakeup at GameStop since Ryan Cohen, the co-founder and former chief executive of online pet food company Chewy Inc, joined its board in January.

GameStop’s board is working with an executive headhunter on the CEO search, the sources said, requesting anonymity because the matter is confidential.

A GameStop spokesman declined to comment.

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Dan Grebler

GameStop up 13% more as ‘Reddit army’ bets on sales turnaround

“Meme” stock-in-chief GameStop jumped another 13% in value on Friday, building on a surge since results earlier this week that showed online sales improving and a much-hyped management reshuffle gathering pace.

The video-game retailer, whose shares rose as high as $483 in a battle with short-sellers in January, has now risen more than five times in value since hitting a low of $38.50 per share in mid-February.

It was trading at around $190 by mid-morning, but was still down about 5% on the week after the company pointed to the possibility of a share sale in its earnings filing on Tuesday.

“It’s fascinating because it seems that the Reddit army is doubling down and believing that the company is going to be able to shift their business and pivot to e-commerce,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at OANDA.

The company has benefited from a push by retail investors, often on online forums such as Reddit’s popular WallStreetBets, to drive up prices of stocks they believed were undervalued.

Short interest in GameStop has fallen to about 15% of the stock’s float from a peak of 141% in the first week of 2021, according to data from financial analytics firm S3 Partners.

Chewy Inc co-founder Ryan Cohen is seeking to transform the retailer into an e-commerce firm that can take on big-box store rivals such as Target Corp and Walmart Inc.

Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell has departed and the company said this week it had appointed former Amazon.com executive Jenna Owens as Chief Operating Officer.

“The hiring of Jenna Owens is very positively viewed as GameStop now becoming cutting edge and having leadership that could help transform the company,” OANDA’s Moya said, adding that the stock price was still likely to “have a wild consolidation” over the next two months.

Wall Street’s main indexes have had a roller-coaster March as a jump in U.S. government bond yields sparked a sell-off in riskier assets. [.N]

GameStop, which added three new directors including Cohen to its board in January as part of a settlement, said in its annual regulatory filing here on Tuesday it expects eight incumbent board members to retire at its 2021 annual meeting in June.

GameStop soars 32%, leads meme stocks higher with Koss, AMC surging too

Shares in GameStop and other so-called meme stocks popular among members of Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum jumped on Thursday as investors bought shares whose prices tumbled in the previous session.

Shares in video-game retailer GameStop were last up 32.1% at $159.02 with brisk trading volume, erasing much of the previous session’s 33.8% decline after the company said it was evaluating the possibility of a share sale.

Volatility has spiked this year in GameStop shares, which have risen from just $18.84 at the end of 2020 and reached a record high of $483 in late January before falling sharply and then kicking off another rally in late February.

The company has benefited from a push by retail investors such as Reddit members to drive up prices of heavily shorted stocks.

Investors have also been eyeing efforts by billionaire investor and Chewy Inc co-founder Ryan Cohen, who is on GameStop’s board, to transform the retailer into an e-commerce firm that can take on big-box store rivals such as Target Corp and Walmart Inc.

Shares in headphone maker Koss Corp were up 30.5% at $21.44 with volume surpassing twice the 10-day moving average. The stock had fallen almost 22% on Wednesday.

Cinema operator AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc were up 15.9% at $10.45 after falling 36% in the last four sessions with Disney’s announcement on March 23 that it was delaying the release of Marvel Studios film “Black Widow” by two months until July and planning a simultaneous theaters and Disney+ streaming release.

GameStop loses second senior executive as shakeup deepens

(Reuters) – GameStop Corp said on Tuesday its chief customer officer Frank Hamlin will resign from the company by March 31, pointing to a deepening of changes driven by its new biggest shareholder, Chewy.com co-founder Ryan Cohen.

This is the second executive departure at GameStop since it tapped Cohen to spearhead a transition to e-commerce. Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell is stepping down this month.

The company, which is expected to report fourth quarter results after the market close on Tuesday, garnered eyeballs after a social media frenzy in January, motivated in part by anger at shortsellers, triggered a rally in its shares.

Hamlin will become entitled to the payments, rights and benefits associated with a ‘Good Reason’ resignation under his employment agreement with GameStop, it said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

GameStop leads meme stocks lower, on track for sharp weekly drop

Shares of GameStop Corp slid further in early trade on Tuesday, continuing a slump that has seen the videogame retailer’s stock shed a third of its value so far this week.

The company’s shares were down 16.4% at $184, on track for their worst weekly performance since early February, with a drop of more than 30% since Friday’s close.

Other so-called meme stocks, popular with online retail traders, declined early in Tuesday’s session, with cinema operator AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc down 8.6%, while headphones maker Koss Corp fell 7.1%.

GameStop continues to retain a legion of devout followers after a social media frenzy in January triggered a massive rally in which its shares surged more than 1,600%, in a short squeeze that shook hedge funds such as Melvin Capital.

GameStop shares surge in early deals, on course to extend rally

(Reuters) – Shares of GameStop jumped before the bell on Wednesday, setting the videogame retailer on track for its longest streak of daily gains in six months and extending a rally that has already doubled the company’s market value.

Other “meme stocks” also rose on Wednesday, with headphones maker Koss Corp and cinema giant AMC Entertainment jumping more than 5% in premarket trading.

GameStop was trading 14.1% higher at $281.71, on course for a sixth straight session of gains.

The company’s Germany-listed shares jumped nearly 19% to 235 euros a share. Data from brokerage Lang & Schwarz showed the scrip to be among the top three traded shares on its platform.

GameStop is the flag-bearer of the so-called “stonks” – a term used to describe stocks with convoluted prospects that are popular with retail traders on online forums. The videogame retailer’s stock has seen its fortunes fluctuate since a social media frenzy in January drove a 1600% surge.

Meme stocks like GameStop could continue their recent rally, as individual investors active on online social media forums pour portions of their stimulus checks into the stock market.

GameStop rally fizzles; shares still on pace for 130% weekly gain

GameStop  customers inside Wall Street shop

An early surge in the shares of GameStop Corp fizzled and left the video game retailer’s stock down more than 15% on Friday, throwing water on a renewed rally this week that has left analysts puzzled.

GameStop shares hovered around $94 after hitting $105 in late-morning trading. Despite Friday’s losses, the company’s stock is up about 135% for the week in the face of a broader market selloff that has sent the benchmark S&P 500 down about 2% over the same time.

Analysts have struggled to find an clear explanation for the rally, leaving some skeptical that it will continue.

“You might be able to make some quick trading money and it could be a lot of money, but in the end, it’s the greater fool theory,” said Eric Diton, president and managing director at The Wealth Alliance in New York. The theory refers to buying stocks that are over-valued in anticipation that someone else will come along to buy them at a higher price.

One catalyst that sparked GameStop’s rally in January – a high concentration of investors that had bet against the stock being forced to unwind their positions – does not appear to be as much of a factor this time.

Short interest accounted for 28.4% of the float on Thursday, compared with a peak of 142% in early January, according to S3 Partners.

Options market activity in the stock, which has returned to the top of the list in a social media-driven retail trading frenzy, suggested investors were betting on higher prices or higher volatility, or both.

Refinitiv data on options showed retail investors have been buying deep out-of-the-money call options, which are options with contract prices to buy far higher than the current stock price.

Many of those option contracts are set to expire on Friday, and would mean handsome gains for those betting on a further rise in GameStop’s stock price.

Call options, which would be profitable for holders if GameStop shares reach $200 and $800 this week, have been particularly heavily traded, the data showed.

“The actors are looking to take advantage of everything they can to maximize their impact and the timing is important,” said David Trainer, chief executive officer of investment research firm New Constructs. “The options expiration will contribute to their strategy on how to push the stock as much as they can and maximize their profits.”

Bots on major social media websites have been hyping GameStop and other “meme stocks,” although the extent to which they influenced market prices is unclear, according to analysis by Massachusetts-based cyber security company PiiQ Media.

GameStop’s stock is still far from the $483 intraday trading high it hit in January, when individual investors using Robinhood and other trading apps drove a rally, forcing many hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer to cover short positions.

Other Reddit favorites were also lower, with cinema operator AMC Entertainment down around 5.5%, headphone maker Koss off about 25% and marijuana company Sundial Growers down less than 1% in Friday trading.

Bots hyped up GameStop on major social media platforms – Analysis finds

Bots on major social media platforms have been hyping up GameStop and other “meme” stocks, according to an analysis by Massachusetts-based cyber security company PiiQ Media, suggesting organized economic or foreign actors may have played a role in the Reddit-driven trading frenzy.

Shares in GameStop soared last month after Reddit users banded together to squeeze hedge funds that had bet against the video game retailer and other companies. Reddit Chief Executive Steve Huffman told Congress this month that bots, artificial or fake accounts with automated content, had not played a “significant role” in GameStop Reddit message traffic.

PiiQ Media’s analysis of Twitter Inc, Facebook Inc, Instagram and YouTube posts, however, found that bots used the platforms to push GameStop and other “meme” stocks, although it is unclear how influential they were in the overall saga.

A startup that focuses on social media risks, PiiQ said it examined patterns of keywords such as “Hold the Line” and GameStop’s stock symbol, “GME” across conversations and profiles prior to the Jan. 28 frenzy, through Feb. 18. For comparison, it also assessed posts on an unrelated set of stocks.

PiiQ said that it identified very similar daily “start and stop patterns” in the GameStop-related posts, with activity starting at the beginning of the trading day, followed by a large spike at the end of the trading day. Such patterns are indicative of bots, said Aaron Barr, co-founder and chief technology officer of PiiQ.

“We saw clear patterns of artificial behavior across the other four social media platforms. When you think of organic content, it’s variable in the day, variable day-to-day. It doesn’t have the exact same pattern every day for a month,” he said.

Based on its authenticity scoring system, PiiQ estimates there are tens of thousands of bot accounts hyping GameStop, the meme stocks, and Dogecoin, a cryptocurrency swept up in the frenzy. Thousands of fake accounts can be purchased for as little as $200, it said.

The company did not analyze Reddit data, but Barr said he would expect to see a similar pattern of activity on Reddit, indicating bot-like or coordinated management of conversations.

A representative for Reddit did not comment beyond Huffman’s testimony. Representatives for YouTube, Facebook and its Instagram subsidiary did not respond to requests for comment. The social media platforms generally try to weed out harmful bots, said Barr.

A spokesperson for Twitter said that “bots” had become a catch-all term that can often mischaracterize the nature of the account. The company notes bots can be used on its platform for creative or innovative purposes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is probing the GameStop saga, and this month suspended trading in a handful of companies because some “social media accounts may be engaged in a coordinated attempt to artificially influence” their stocks.

In addition to traders, organized criminals may use social media to stoke asset prices, and undermining the integrity of U.S. markets is a known goal of hostile state actors, said Barr. But it is unclear how successful, if at all, these types of influence efforts are, he said.

“Measuring the effect of those campaigns is often illusive.”

GameStop’s Frankfurt shares nearly triple in catch-up trade to Wall Street

GameStop Corp’s Frankfurt-listed shares surged 180% in premarket trading on Thursday after the videogame retailer’s U.S. stock more than doubled in late trading in the previous session.

Analysts could not pinpoint one reason for the sharp move, but at least one ruled out a short squeeze that had fired the “Reddit rally” in January when amateur investors piled into stocks that hedge funds had bet against.

Some Twitter users pointed to an activist investor’s tweet of an ice cream cone picture, while others cited factors including options trading and the resignation of GameStop Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell, announced on Tuesday.

GameStop’s U.S.-listed shares soared nearly 104% on Wednesday and were halted several times in a rally that began after 1930 GMT. They jumped another 85% after hours.

German shares of cinema operator AMC Entertainment, another stock favoured last month by individual traders on online discussion forums such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets, jumped 34.7% following an 18% rise in its U.S. stock on Wednesday.

GameStop CFO to resign after Reddit rally

(Reuters) – GameStop Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell will step down next month, the video game retailer said on Tuesday, as it focuses on shifting into technology-driven sales in the wake of headline-grabbing big betting in its stock.

GameStop said Bell’s resignation was not due to any disagreement with the company relating to its operations, including accounting principles and practices.

However, a source said that while Bell’s exit was unrelated to the recent wild swings in GameStop’s stock spurred by retail traders on the Reddit social media site, his departure was initiated by the company.

The source, a person familiar with the firm’s thinking, said GameStop had become dissatisfied with Bell as it works to transform into a technology-oriented business and was not confident he would be the right CFO moving forward.

Bell, who will leave the company on March 26, previously worked at brick-and-mortar retailers Gap Inc and Coldwater Creek and restaurant chain P. F. Chang’s China Bistro, according to his LinkedIn profile. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Shares of GameStop fell about 5% to $42.75 in extended trading after the announcement. The stock has risen about 140% this year, after paring most of the gains that sent short sellers scrambling to cover losing bets and saw the company hit a record high of $482.95.

GameStop has also been targeted by shareholders pushing it to focus more on digital sales rather than its mall-based locations.

New directors focused on this strategy have recently joined its board and the source said those additions had helped create more momentum for the CFO transition.

GameStop said it has begun a search for a permanent CFO, adding that it would appoint Chief Accounting Officer Diana Jajeh as interim CFO if a permanent replacement was not found before Bell’s departure.