Investing

The Meme Stock Phenomenon Strikes Again as Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) Rallys

The meme stock craze that largely defined the retail investment landscape throughout 2021 resurfaced recently, this time favoring Bed Bath & Beyond (US:BBBY) shares.

On Aug. 16, several news outlets reported that activist investor Ryan Cohen, via his investment vehicle RC Ventures LLC, bought call options on 1.67 million shares expiring January 2023. Following the development, BBBY stock tore higher, closing up 29% at  $20.65.

An Aug. 14 Form 3 document Cohen filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission revealed three options positions that RC Ventures holds: 1.126 million contracts for $60 calls, 44,400 contracts for $75 calls and half-a-million contracts for $80 calls. All three options expire on Jan. 20, 2023.

Options allow their purchasers the right — but not the obligation — to buy or sell the underlying securities at specified prices on given dates. By itself, acquiring a call option implies bullish sentiment as it allows holders to secure the underlying equity at the stated strike price.

While the implications of Cohen’s acquisition of BBBY stock bode well for the struggling retailer, circumstances did not start off auspiciously on Tuesday. In fact, Bed Bath & Beyond opened the morning session at $15.71, nearly 2% below Monday’s $16 close.

According to a Reuters report, BBBY stock opened lower after the research arm of B. Riley Financial (US:RILY) downgraded shares to “sell.” Its analysts said the shares are trading at “unrealistic valuations.”

Over the last five days, BBBY stock nearly doubled, while shares have jumped more than 316% over the trailing month. Nevertheless, not everyone appears to believe that the sentiment can sustain itself. Following Tuesday’s close, BBBY lit up the screen for unusual options activity, with several traders buying put options against the retailer.

Unlike calls, puts by themselves feature bearish implications, allowing stakeholders to sell underlying shares at the given strike price.

Interestingly, a few days ago, The Wall Street Journal published an article acknowledging that while meme stocks have returned, the magnitude of enthusiasm is limited compared to last year’s extraordinary optimism. Specifically, the Journal mentioned that fears about decades-high inflation and a possible looming recession are “confounding professionals and rookies alike on where the stock market might go from here.”

One factor that may determine where BBBY stock heads next is speculation regarding a possible short squeeze. According to Fintel’s Short Squeeze Leaderboard, Bed Bath & Beyond ranks as number 162. Following Tuesday’s market close, BBBY had a short float of 41.86% and a short ratio of 0.39 days to cover.

This article originally appeared on Fintel

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