Bed Bath & Beyond Fallout Makes a Billion for Short Sellers While Retail Traders Lose

  • Bloomberg
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Bed Bath & Beyond Fallout Makes a Billion for Short Sellers While Retail Traders Lose
Credit: © Reuters

(Bloomberg) -- Bed Bath & Beyond Inc (NASDAQ: BBBY ).’s bankruptcy has netted more than a billion in paper profits for skeptics who bet against the big-box retailer, while amateur investors have been left holding a nearly empty bag.

The 99% plunge in the shares this year has delivered a $142 million boost in mark-to-market profits for short sellers, according to S3 Partners data, bringing potential returns since the January 2021 peak to $1.3 billion. For retail traders who bet on the meme stock, they’re likely sitting on losses of nearly $140 million this year, according to a Bloomberg analysis of Vanda (NASDAQ: VNDA ) Research data.

Individual investors had piled into the stock over the past two years, with amateurs armed with fee-free trading apps waging a war against hedge funds betting the firm and other struggling companies would go bankrupt. Over the weekend, Bed Bath & Beyond became the first meme stock to meet the fate Wall Street had forecast, filing for bankruptcy, despite millions of retail traders snapping up shares of the beleaguered retailer.

The Union, New Jersey-based company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sunday, a move that came after months of warning about its ability to keep operating. The retailer had tried some unconventional ways to raise much needed cash and keep the lights on, but now it will liquidate stores immediately and search for a buyer for some or all of its assets. 

The army of day traders who once boosted shares of Bed Bath & Beyond, alongside the likes of GameStop Corp (NYSE: GME )., had mostly abandoned their dip buying ways, opting to hang along for the ride despite sitting on massive paper losses.

All told, retail traders had pushed more than $730 million into the company over the past two years, Vanda data show. That means losses for the day-trading crowd are likely far higher given the group’s preference to HODL (slang for hold on for dear life).

Bed Bath & Beyond sank as much as 38% to a record low 18 cents a share on Monday.

The shares may see a move reminiscent of well-known consumer-facing firms that have gone bankrupt in the past few years, including Revlon Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings (OTC: HTZGQ ) Inc., which saw rapid rallies in the wake of going bust. The company said it it may “pivot away” from store closings if it draws suitors.

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© Bloomberg. A Bed Bath & Beyond store in New York.

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