There was blood on the floor across U.S. stocks on Friday, but for meme stocks only a frantic last hour of buying prevented social media’s favorite ticker symbols from getting exsanguinated to end the first trading week of December.
Both GameStop GME, -5.05% and AMC Entertainment AMC, -4.19% — among other key meme names — spent most of Friday’s trading hours getting outright clobbered with GameStop falling as much as 11.8% and AMC plummeting 15.2% going into the final hour of trading.
For memes, it looked like the close to a particularly difficult week as confusion over how concerned markets should be about the omicron variant mixed with the very real fear that Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell is getting ready to start tapering, ending an unprecedented period of central banking accommodation of capital markets.
AMC, more exposed to the concerns over a new COVID variant, felt the pain more acutely than its ur-meme partner, falling back almost 33% by 3 p.m. Friday. GameStop bottomed out at the same time but at a comparatively shallower 21.4%.
Generally, signs were popping up everywhere that the salad days of buying stocks for the sake of future growth might be coming to an end.
That pain was felt across meme names like Koss KOSS, -7.27%, Tesla TSLA, -6.42% and Nvidia NVDA, -4.46% as the Nasdaq COMP, -1.92% was openly flirting with a bear market, and even zeitgeist investor Cathie Wood found herself getting mauled by that waking bear as her flagship ARK Innovation ETF ARKK, -5.54% dropped another 13.8% on the week.
For AMC, the two-week wait is on for the newest Spider-Man film, which AMC CEO/memelord Adam Aron is using to gauge Reddit Ape interest in nonfungible tokens and other cryptos. But for now, Aron has been reduced to trying to juice up retail fervor by taking to Twitter and inviting his followers to Aaron Sorkin’s new movie about Lucille Ball’s difficult marriage to Desi Arnaz.
Spider-Man cannot swing fast enough.
For GameStop, some of the week was taken up by some hot drama around retail investors seeing some incorrect data about the stock on Fidelity’s platform Tuesday morning.
That data appeared to show that there were more than 13 million shares of GameStop available to short when in reality there were only about 2 million, a number that GameStop’s Ape army knew was wrong thanks to their obsessive watching of short interest on the stock.
After Fidelity released a statement claiming “the root cause was an incorrect entry of the number of shares available to short by one of our external counterparties. The issue was fixed by 12:10 p.m. ET today.”
Reddit and Twitter were ablaze with conjecture over who could have been at fault for the discrepancy with many once again pointing the finger at short sellers that they see as their archenemies, with one theory alleging that a defunct market maker was to blame.
But in the end, the answer was a very boring one. On Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for Vanguard sent a statement to MarketWatch admitting that the house that Jack Bogle built was in fact the counterparty that made the error on GameStop data.
“Due to a clerical data entry error, yesterday we provided Fidelity with the incorrect “potential securities lending availability” data for Gamestop (GME),” read Vanguard’s statement. “The error was corrected shortly thereafter and before the markets opened. We regret this error occurred and apologize for any confusion this may have caused.”
According to insiders, the timing issue was a result of Fidelity taking its data feed from Vanguard and then updating later in the day. That time lapse accounted for Vanguard’s corrected data not hitting Fidelity’s trading tickets until just after noon EST.
And, like it or not, errors like this are not uncommon.
“Brokers receive incorrect data that gets displayed to the public all the time,” explained Anthony Denier, CEO of trading platform Webull Financial. “Once brokers are made aware or catch the error themselves, they rectify it as soon as possible, but because this error happened regarding short interest on GME it’s now a conspiracy against the Apes.”
But because of the scrutiny that eagle-eyed Apes are putting on meme stocks, even Denier sees a shift happening.
“This is the new world, but I will tell you this, the retail army has put everyone on notice to be better,” he said.
The retail army has also made it difficult for old school traders to get comfortable with any trend.
Another clear indicator of how retail Apes play by their own rules was the fact that between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. EST Friday, GameStop soared 7.6% and AMC popped almost 13% in that time frame as social media was rife with users encouraging one another to BTFD, or buy the f@*$ing dip.
The major indexes also pared back losses in the final hour of the trading day, but GameStop and AMC have both managed to go on dramatic run-ups in the last hour of trading every day this week.
Some die-hard Apes will continue to believe that there’s more to bad data than simple errors by some of the most trusted and drama-free investment advisers around and that no one is selling in a massive selloff because everyone’s hands are as diamond as their own, but some might also be coming around to the notion that they started a movement in January and there are people on the fringes who see that movement as. a tradeable trend, and they aren’t as zealous…and they have much softer hands.
And we’re not talking about hedge funds…necessarily.
Now, what remains to be seen is if the dips created by those fringe players remain buyable as the world starts to shrug off COVID variants and gets back to normal as Jay Powell tightens the spigot and money gets a lot less cheap.
Diamond hands will start to feel heavy by then, but so will the cost of borrowing to short a videogame retailer stock that is up 900% in 2021.
And, oh, GameStop reports earnings on Dec. 8.