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GameStop stock falls 40 percent as ‘Roaring Kitty’ hosts live stream

GameStop stock falls 40 percent as ‘Roaring Kitty’ hosts live stream
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The influential investor’s widely anticipated live stream started 25 minutes late, with pounding drums and pictures of cats.

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Suddenly the music gave way to a high-pitched drone as Keith Gill, the stock trader known as “Roaring Kitty,” appeared on camera. Wearing sunglasses and bandages — he never explained why, other than to say they were just for show — he cracked open a beer and spoke to hundreds of thousands of viewers who tuned in for investing advice — and instead got a rambling soliloquy that was light on financials.

It was the first public appearance in years for the man whose Reddit posts about GameStop in 2021 helped fuel a trading frenzy in an early example of a meme-stock phenomenon. His embrace of GameStop, which he frequently explained in videos on YouTube and posts on Reddit, helped spark the wild surge in the stock price of a fading video game retailer and helped grow his own $50,000 stake in the company into a position worth millions.

“Can you believe it’s me?” Gill asked Friday.

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Although he offered no new information about his holdings or investment strategy, the long-haired former life insurance salesman proved once again that his slightest online move can spark dramatic swings in the stock market for the handful of struggling companies he helped power to online fame.

Shares of GameStop rose almost 50 percent Thursday after Gill’s long-dormant YouTube channel suddenly indicated that he would host a live stream the next day. Although they tumbled Friday morning when GameStop announced it would sell millions of additional shares at the current price, the stock spiked higher again at noon Eastern as Gill’s followers waited for the live stream.

The stock has gone for a wild ride since mid-May when Gill re-engaged with the meme stock crowd on social media platforms for the first time since 2021.

Gill started posting memes on his @TheRoaringKitty X account on May 12 with a picture of a man leaning forward in his chair to post on a smartphone. Shares of GameStop rose 150 percent over the next two days as the X account featured a deluge of pictures and videos from sources like “Forrest Gump,” “Seinfeld” and “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

The stock surged again weeks later when a Reddit account linked to Gill shared a screenshot showing a $115.7 million position in GameStop, with millions in additional call options. Another screenshot showed he had held onto his shares for a gain of $78.6 million that day alone.

Ahead of its stock-sale announcement Friday, the company on Friday reported a net loss of $32.3 million for the first quarter of 2024, an improvement compared with a net loss of $50.5 million in the same period a year earlier.

Gill did not even mention GameStop for the first several minutes of Friday’s live stream. But he eventually said his investment thesis is effectively a bet that CEO Ryan Cohen can leverage the “very unusual situation” the company finds itself in. Gill was highly complimentary of Cohen even as he did little to articulate what he thought the company’s plan was.

“We don’t know a plan, and that’s fair, but boy, you’re rightsizing the ship, trying to stabilize some cash flows, stabilize that legacy business, but now it’s all about the transformation,” Gill said of Cohen’s approach.

Amid the stock market fireworks Gill has drawn accusations that he could be manipulating the market, although it is unclear what rules, if any, may have been broken.

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The Wall Street Journal reported that E-Trade Financial was considering telling Gill that he can no longer use the platform and that the Securities and Exchange Commission was also looking into the issue. Both E-Trade and the SEC declined to comment.

Citron Research, whose founder Andrew Left has a track record of short-selling companies, charged that, unlike his 2021 discourse that helped GameStop soar at the time, Gill’s statements this time around are “appearing more like manipulation without a solid thesis,” and said “someone” must be backing Gill’s trades.

“What made Keith Gill aka Kitty interesting initially was his authenticity,” Citron posted on X. “He shared a detailed investment thesis and put his money where his mouth was. … This time it feels different.”

Gill rejected those criticisms Friday.

“The accounts I’m showing are mine,” Gill said. “I’m not working with hedge funds. … It’s the same stuff as last time.”

It would be hard to bring a case against Gill, Duke University law professor Gina-Gail Fletcher said, as the legal definition of market manipulation turns on the provision of “false or misleading information.” Simply disclosing one’s holdings probably doesn’t meet that definition, Fletcher said.

But that doesn’t mean that Gill’s postings should simply be dismissed, she said.

“Gill is bullish on GameStop and this is not a crime, but as we see his impact on the market in ways that some might consider problematic, it does raise questions about the efficacy of our century-year-old laws in protecting the stability and integrity of the financial markets,” Fletcher said.

Itay Goldstein, chairperson of the finance department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, called the GameStop saga a “fascinating phenomenon” that shows how investors can use modern communication tools to coordinate beliefs.

Gill “is making bold statements about a stock that everyone thinks is not worth much,” Goldstein said. “What I found disturbing was [Gill’s] effect on trading volume, as it sort of became a self-fulfilling thing.”

Friday’s live stream, however, seemed to have the opposite effect this time. GameStop’s stock price started falling the moment Gill’s live stream began, and by the time his rambling discourse finished 50 minutes later, GameStop shares were trading below $30 a share, more than $7 lower than the stock price when he began talking.

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The stock was at $28.22 by Friday’s close, down 39 percent for the day, erasing much of Thursday’s gains.





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