Stop me if you’ve heard this before: GameStop’s stock price is surging in ways that no Wall Street expert can explain or understand. If you think this article is rehashing old news, you are wrong. Today is March 22, 2023 and as I type this article, GameStop’s stock price is up 35% compared to yesterday’s close. It’s up 50% in the last few days. Assuming you haven’t been in a coma for the last few years, you are probably having flashbacks to an innocent time known as January 2021. A time when there was no war in Ukraine, Elon Musk did not own Twitter, and Silicon Valley Bank was an extremely respectable bank with an all-time high market cap of $40 billion.
If you somehow know nothing about the insane stock market gains experienced by GameStop two years ago, here’s a long story short: Back in late 2020, a bunch of average traders got together on a reddit forum and brilliantly conspired to send share prices of a few companies to the moon. One of those companies was GameStop. The stock went from $1 in the middle of 2020 to around $8 in September 2021. In mid-January it was around $40. Then it went to $346 a share towards the end of January 2021. In the last two years, GameStop’s share price has wobbled all the way back down to $16 on Friday. The lowest it had been since the crazy times two years ago. And then things started to get weird again this week. On Tuesday afternoon, GameStop reported its first quarterly profit in two years. That news sent the stock soaring to the current price of $24 a share. A 50% increase compared to Friday.
But let’s go back to those innocent days of January 2021 for a moment. If you somehow managed to buy 1,000 shares of GameStop when it was trading at $8, by late January 2021 your account would have been worth $340,000. Man that would have been an awesome feeling. Now imagine how it would have felt if you bough not 1,000 shares, not 10,000, not 100,000… but 9 MILLION shares back in September 2020 at $8. Ryan Cohen doesn’t have to imagine that feeling….
Who is Ryan Cohen?
A decade ago Ryan co-founded online pet food/toy company Chewy.com. He and his co-founder were rejected by over 100 VC firms before finally landing $15 million in capital in 2013. In 2016 Chewy raised $230 million. That same year the company generated $900 million in revenue. In 2017 Chewy raised $350 million. Later that same year, Chewy was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35 billion. PetSmart took Chewy public in 2019. Today Chewy has a market cap of $43 billion.
Cohen cashed out to the tune of several hundred million in the original PetSmart sale.
In June 2020 Ryan made headlines when he announced he was intending to plow his entire fortune into two stocks: Apple and Wells Fargo. His Apple stake reportedly is worth more than $500 million today.
As it turns out, he was fibbing at bit. We now know he bought stock in a third company as well. The third company?
In August 2020, the Cohen was forced to make an SEC filing. He was forced to do so because he had been acquiring shares in the mall video game retailer GameStop and his position had gotten so large, it triggered a required SEC disclosure.
The size of his position?
9 million shares
He spent an average of $8 to acquire his stake which constitutes roughly 10% of the company. In total Ryan spent $76 million piecing together his 9 million shares.
For a brief moment on Thursday, January 21, 2021 GameStop’s share price hit $483. At $483, Ryan’s 9 million shares were worth…
GameStop ended January 21 at $193. At that level, Ryan’s stake was worth…
Today Ryan Cohen owns roughly 12% of GameStop’s total outstanding shares. On Friday, when GameStop was trading at $16, his stake was worth around $580 million. At the current price of $24, his stake is worth around…
That’s a $300 million gain since Friday and a 10x gain on the $76 million he paid to acquire his shares. If GameStop’s share price increases just $3 to $27, Ryan’s stake will cross $1 billion again.
Where is this going? Honestly, who knows! Who could have predicted the infamous short-squeeze of January 2021? Who could have predicted GameStop would go from dying mall video game store to thriving profitable public company? Apparently one guy: Ryan Cohen.