05 April 2021

GameStop to sell 3.5m shares after stock frenzy boosts price

05 April 2021

Two months after a market phenomenon took shares of GameStop to the moon, the video game retailer said on Monday that it will sell up to 3.5 million of its shares.

The company said the shares will be sold through an “at-the-market” offering, which lets a publicly traded company raise capital over time.

The announcement sent shares of GameStop, up 850% this year, down 8% at the opening bell.

The GameStop saga has been one of the biggest stories on Wall Street this year.

The company had been pummelled as new technology allowed people to download games, rather than buying a physical copy from GameStop or somewhere else.

That shift threatened the existence of GameStop and its shares had been more than halved, to 20 dollars each, by the start of this year.

A number of hedge funds, believing the value of GameStop shares would fall further, shorted the company, or bet against its shares.

However, a group of smaller investors who communicated largely on Reddit challenged those hedge funds, believing they were wrong or that they could catch them in a “short squeeze”.

Earns-GameStop (AP)

To short a stock, an investor borrows shares at the current price for a fee, and buys them back at a later date.

If the shares fall, the investor pockets the difference.

If it rises, it can lead to massive losses because the borrowed stock is now worth more than was paid for it, and the investor must pay the difference.

That is exactly what happened this year and shares of GameStop rocketed from 20 dollars, to 483 dollars, and ravaging short sellers such as Citron Research.

At the same time, it made a bunch of small investors very wealthy.

Market pundits had urged the company to put more shares on the market as the price spiked.

Such a stock sale would have allowed the company to pay down hefty debts and even revive the company by pursuing a new business plan.

And two weeks ago, GameStop disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it actually had been considering such a move since January.

Even though it did not announce the share sale when share prices peaked, GameStop could wipe existing debt off the books if it chooses.

The company’s stock closed at 191.45 dollars last week, meaning it could raise as much as 670 million dollars (£483m).

GameStop’s net debt was around 430 million dollars (£310m) in January. However, because the sale is “at-the-market”, it gives the company more flexibility as to when the sales happen.

A company’s shares typically slide after it announces it will sell more shares because it tends to water down the value of shares that are already out there. That is certainly what happened on Monday.

Shares had fallen as much as 16% before the opening bell and bounced back somewhat in early trading on Monday. This year, double-digit swings in the company’s stock have become common.

The company, based in Grapevine, Texas, also said on Monday that preliminary fiscal first-quarter to-date global sales are up about 11% from a year ago, a period when the pandemic hit the US and retailers such as GameStop were forced to close its stores.

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