shares soared Wednesday in an apparent short squeeze, but one analyst who specializes in information on short selling doesn’t think that’s the case.
GameStop shares surged more than 60% Wednesday — which would be its largest one-day percentage gain ever, according to Dow Jones data —more than a week after short interest on the videogame retailer’s stock exceeded the number of shares outstanding. At last check, more than 125 million shares had traded hands in the day’s session, compared with a 52-week daily average volume of 6.5 million shares.
While GameStop has 69.8 million shares outstanding, short interest on the stock rose to 71.2 million shares on Dec. 31 from a previous 68.1 million shares, according to FactSet data.
On Monday, GameStop shares finished up 10% after it reached an agreement with activist investor RC Ventures to add three of its members to the board, and advanced less than 0.1% on Tuesday. Also, on Monday, the company said holiday same-store sales rose 4.8% and that digital sales had jumped 309%.
While noting that shorts definitely were a part of the buying binge, Ihor Dusaniwsky — the head of predictive analytics at financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners, which specializes in analyzing data on short selling — said he doesn’t agree that GameStop’s price surge was the result of a squeeze.
“GME’s board shake-up and stronger holiday sales is causing a long-buying tsunami, which is the primary factor for the price move,” Dusaniwsky said in emailed comments. “While I agree that we are seeing some shorts squeezed out of their positions due to massive mark-to-market losses today, this is much like the chicken-and-egg question – did long buying lead to short coveringsqueeze or short coveringsqueeze lead to long buying?”
Dusaniwsky believes it’s the former.
“We will not be seeing a massive drop in shares shorted over the next few days, more like a 10%-20% drop which would mean 7 to 14 million of shares covered which is nowhere near the almost 70 million shares traded this morning,” the analyst said. “Long buyers are the primary force driving GME’s stock price up. “