The Secret Broker: Reddit, squeeze it, eat it, dump it, bank it. When a short squeeze really becomes Finger Lickin’ Good
The Secret Broker
The Secret Broker
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After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.
Ryan Cohen is the inspired son of a glassware factory owner and he has just made a few Reddit followers multimillionaires, by helping to create one of the biggest short squeezes Wall Street has ever seen.
For those of you who do not know what Reddit is, it is an anonymous forum where you can ask almost any question and get a bunch of people to give you a pretty good reply.
Lately, more and more of those questions have been about shares and share trading and I must admit, some of the forums – subreddits – have been informative and accurate in replies to stock exchange related questions.
Derivative trading, volatility trading and day trading have some big followings, but the one subreddit that has really nailed it for the young Harvard-educated Wall Street employed traders since it opened back in 2012 is WallStreetBets.
Words used once by the Guardian to describe a similar forum user can also be used here to to sum up WSB:
‘lunatic, juvenile … brilliant, ridiculous and alarming’
Thinking about it, that’s how you could have described the trading floor before computer screens took over and everyone became anonymous by hiding behind their screens, whilst dishing out their buys and sells.
Over here in Australia a stock forum user could be summed up with only one word:
Back to Ryan Cohen. He actually set up an ecommerce business, took on Amazon with his product and walked away with a cool U$3bn in his back pocket. He’s now a bit of an agitator to the boards of under-performing companies.
One of these companies got picked up by WallStreetBets followers, who happened to be following Ryan and his antics at one such company that he had been hounding to produce a boardroom shuffle.
As Ryan built up a stake in the company, the WSB crowd all followed in and by doing so, they created a short squeeze that was so hard on the Wall Street shorter’s pips that they started crying tears of blood in disbelief.
What the shorters were figuring was that the company had over 5,000 bricks and mortar stores, not much of an online presence, didn’t make any money and had debt. A Blockbuster for the 2020s, so to speak.
So from US$40 downwards, the Wall Street traders borrowed stock and sold. In fact, 68% of the company’s shares were sold short down to around U$2.00 a share. Today they closed at U$43 and on Tuesday 145m shares traded which is three times the amount of shares on issue.
The company is called GameStop (you will know them as EB Games in Australia) and here is a chart of the action described above:
Ryan has now secured three boardroom seats and he is allowed to move to 19.99% of the company. What he likes and the shorters haven’t taken into account is that GameStop have over 10 million loyalty card customers signed up. And for a guy who took on Amazon and made US$3bn doing so, this is something that he can work on and where the fun is just beginning to happen.
The WallStreetBets followers have been whooping it up in joyful harmony, poking fun at the trouble they have caused and the money that they have made. As most of them are intelligent and geeky, parodies have started to appear and this is one of my favourites.
In it, there’s a reference to WallStreetBets as WSB, and a made up price of US$420.69 a share is in honour of Elon Musk’s 420 marijuana tweet, (which cost Elon a cool U$20m SEC fine).
The GameStop shares are called ‘tendies’. It’s a reference they use on WSB to chicken tenderloins, the term they use to describe a reward of Southern Fried Tenderloins that a mother gives to her still-living-at-home 30-year-old son, as a couch treat for being ‘a good boy’.
You really need to watch with the volume on.
The parodies don’t stop there though, as they have also produced a song with which to goad the GameStop shorters even more. Be careful, as it is very catchy.
Have a great Australia Day, I will catch you again next week.
The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.