If You Can’t Spot The Sucker…

<< Read Part 2: If You Can’t Spot The Sucker: Part 2

By: Steve Sosnick Chief Strategist at Interactive Brokers

The roller coaster ride in meme stocks continues today. It is important to keep in mind that the ride is being skillfully operated by a key corporate insider.

Let’s say you bought a big slug of stock earlier this year for an average price of about $15.35 [1], then had it briefly double before its value got cut by nearly two-thirds. For a normal person, that would be a tough pill to swallow, and you would have little choice but to decide whether to take a painful loss or wait for a rally that may not come. By this point, I think you know which stock I’m talking about, but here is a reminder:

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) 7-Month Chart, Daily Bars

(Click on image to enlarge)

Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) 7 Month Chart, Daily Bars

Source: Interactive Brokers

Now let’s say that you are an insider at that company with a huge social media following. You have opportunities to influence stock prices that regular people don’t. You can, say, buy a big slug of call options in a manner designed to attract attention. Normally, corporate insiders try to buy and sell holdings as quietly as possible, but a certain insider has demonstrated his propensity to buy stocks in a (legal) manner seemingly designed to create positive momentum

At this point, social media does the heavy lifting. The meme stock is in play, the shorts get squeezed, and relentless call buyers push up the implied volatilities of call options. The modest uptrend becomes a parabolic moonshot, and a sequence of double- and triple-digit percentage gains ensues. The media can’t help but discuss the phenomenal moves and volume, and new entrants come into the fray.

But, just as social media reaches a climactic frenzy, we learn that the buyer had filed to sell his holdings. While the filing notes that he had not sold any shares or options at the time of the filing, there was a key one-day loophole. The Form 144 is dated August 16th, but it was posted on the SEC’s website late the next day. We don’t yet have a way to know how many shares might have been sold into the final paroxysm of yesterday’s move. But even if not a single share was sold yesterday, it appears that Ryan Cohen has done a remarkable job of salvaging, and perhaps profiting from, a formerly awful position.

I discussed BBBY in an appearance on Yahoo Finance on Monday, noting that meme stocks were a self-contained loop that “works great if you’re early. It works terrible if you’re late.”I always like to see our customers make money, and it appears that one did that spectacularly with a well-timed investment. The problem is that many trades get in late. The volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of BBBY from Monday through yesterday’s close was $21.77, which is well above the current price. Someone was left holding the bag.

For time immemorial, there have been charismatic figures who have enthralled investors and used that status to enrich themselves at others’ expense. Consider this if you are tempted to follow one of them into investments that offer seductive returns but little fundamental value. If you can’t spot the sucker at the poker table, it’s probably you.

[1] From https://www.sec.gov/edgar/search/?r=el#sc13d13351002_03072022.htm: “The Shares beneficially owned by RC Ventures were purchased with working capital (which may, at any given time, include margin loans made by brokerage firms in the ordinary course of business). The aggregate purchase price of the 7,780,000 Shares directly owned by RC Ventures is approximately $119,376,296, excluding brokerage commissions.”

More By This Author:

US Investors Making A Big Parlay Bet
A Work-Around Or An End-Around?
Recycling The Playbook

Disclosure: The analysis in this material is provided for information only and is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy any security. To the ...

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