GameStop Stock Is Tumbling
Because its earnings report mattered after all.
Because its earnings report mattered after all.
GameStop stock was falling fast on Wednesday after the company’s fiscal fourth-quarter results disappointed analysts. There’s also another elephant in the room: The company is considering selling more stock, which could dilute its shares.
GameStop stock (ticker: GME) closed down 33.8%, at $120.34. The S&P 500 index fell 0.6%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended flat.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, GameStop said it has been evaluating whether or not to increase the size of its previously announced $100 million at-the-market stock-sale program. The company had announced the ATM program in December, with Jefferies acting as the sales agent. The company said it didn’t sell stock as its valuation surged.
GameStop stock received a mix of downgrades, price target cuts, and raises from analysts following the report. “Many on Wall Street have wondered why GameStop has not done an ATM transaction to take advantage of the elevated share price,” Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman wrote. “The answer may be that its balance sheet is in great shape, with cash and cash equivalents of $635MM (incl. restricted cash of $110MM) and debt of $363MM at the end of 2020. The new commentary seems to be a signal that an ATM transaction could be on the way.”
Heading into Tuesday, Feldman had the highest price target listed by FactSet. He lowered his to $30 from $33, calling the event “anti-climactic.” On the flip side, Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink raised her target by 1,066% to $175. That’s the new Street-high, in case there was any doubt.
Wissink argued the moves by Chewy co-founder and GameStop board member Ryan Cohen to transform the company into more of a technology firm warrant a completely different valuation method. The company’s earnings release was paired with another trio of hires with e-commerce backgrounds, including Amazon alum Jenna Owens as its next chief operating officer.
Wissink wrote that she moved from basing her target on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, or Ebitda, to a sales multiple that factors in a shift to e-commerce.
She also makes the point that GameStop has the potential to participate in the rise of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, and the hosting of shoppable content streams.
“As a result, we expect store closures to persist & sales to transfer to dot com,” Wissink wrote. “Total revs may come down, but value per dollar of sales should increase if non-retail streams are realized.”
S&P Global Ratings analysts Mathew Christy and Andy Sookram wrote in a note on Wednesday that they believe the turnaround will involve sizable execution risks and possibly a material increase in its capital investment.”The recent increase and volatility in GameStop’s share price have not affected our fundamental view of its business or the risks the company faces,” they wrote. “However, we note the potential financial flexibility afforded by its improved equity market standing if it chose to raise additional capital to reposition its business or reduce its debt.”
BofA Global Research analyst Curtis Nagle maintained his $10 price objective and Underperform rating. He notes that while GameStop’s adjusted earnings per share of $1.34 beat his estimate for $1.22, he notes that the beat was driven by a large tax credit during the quarter. The company’s Ebitda came in short of his expectations by 66%.
“We continue to be very sceptical on GME’s efforts to address its long standing issue of digital disintermediation and the fact that its core market in new and pre-owned physical console gaming is shrinking at a rapid pace,” Nagle added. “GME also called out leveraging its existing digital assets like its PowerUp rewards program but this has seen declining engagement for years.”
Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter lowered his rating on GameStop to Underperform from Hold, but raised his price target to $29 from $16. While he still thinks GameStop is well-positioned to benefit from the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, he says the short squeeze has spiked the stock to “levels that are completely disconnected from the fundamentals of the business.”
“Our downgrade isn’t a reflection of our opinion of company management, which remains very high; rather, it appears that the ‘real’ value of GameStop shares (the price willing buyers are prepared to pay in the open market) vastly exceeds the ‘fundamental’ value we believe investors expecting a financial return can reasonably expect,” he wrote.
Reprinted by permission of Barron’s. Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: March 24, 2021
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Food prices continue to rise at a rapid pace, surprising central banks and pressuring debt-laden governments
LONDON—Fresh out of an energy crisis, Europeans are facing a food-price explosion that is changing diets and forcing consumers across the region to tighten their belts—literally.
This is happening even though inflation as a whole is falling thanks to lower energy prices, presenting a new policy challenge for governments that deployed billions in aid last year to keep businesses and households afloat through the worst energy crisis in decades.
New data on Wednesday showed inflation in the U.K. fell sharply in April as energy prices cooled, following a similar pattern around Europe and in the U.S. But food prices were 19.3% higher than a year earlier.
The continued surge in food prices has caught central bankers off guard and pressured governments that are still reeling from the cost of last year’s emergency support to come to the rescue. And it is pressuring household budgets that are also under strain from rising borrowing costs.
In France, households have cut their food purchases by more than 10% since the invasion of Ukraine, while their purchases of energy have fallen by 4.8%.
In Germany, sales of food fell 1.1% in March from the previous month, and were down 10.3% from a year earlier, the largest drop since records began in 1994. According to the Federal Information Centre for Agriculture, meat consumption was lower in 2022 than at any time since records began in 1989, although it said that might partly reflect a continuing shift toward more plant-based diets.
Food retailers’ profit margins have contracted because they can’t pass on the entire price increases from their suppliers to their customers. Markus Mosa, chief executive of the Edeka supermarket chain, told German media that the company had stopped ordering products from several large suppliers because of rocketing prices.
A survey by the U.K.’s statistics agency earlier this month found that almost three-fifths of the poorest 20% of households were cutting back on food purchases.
“This is an access problem,” said Ludovic Subran, chief economist at insurer Allianz, who previously worked at the United Nations World Food Program. “Total food production has not plummeted. This is an entitlement crisis.”
Food accounts for a much larger share of consumer spending than energy, so a smaller rise in prices has a greater impact on budgets. The U.K.’s Resolution Foundation estimates that by the summer, the cumulative rise in food bills since 2020 will have amounted to 28 billion pounds, equivalent to $34.76 billion, outstripping the rise in energy bills, estimated at £25 billion.
“The cost of living crisis isn’t ending, it is just entering a new phase,” Torsten Bell, the research group’s chief executive, wrote in a recent report.
Food isn’t the only driver of inflation. In the U.K., the core rate of inflation—which excludes food and energy—rose to 6.8% in April from 6.2% in March, its highest level since 1992. Core inflation was close to its record high in the eurozone during the same month.
Still, Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey told lawmakers Tuesday that food prices now constitute a “fourth shock” to inflation after the bottlenecks that jammed supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, the rise in energy prices that accompanied Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and surprisingly tight labor markets.
Europe’s governments spent heavily on supporting households as energy prices soared. Now they have less room to borrow given the surge in debt since the pandemic struck in 2020.
Some governments—including those of Italy, Spain and Portugal—have cut sales taxes on food products to ease the burden on consumers. Others are leaning on food retailers to keep their prices in check. In March, the French government negotiated an agreement with leading retailers to refrain from price rises if it is possible to do so.
Retailers have also come under scrutiny in Ireland and a number of other European countries. In the U.K., lawmakers have launched an investigation into the entire food supply chain “from farm to fork.”
“Yesterday I had the food producers into Downing Street, and we’ve also been talking to the supermarkets, to the farmers, looking at every element of the supply chain and what we can do to pass on some of the reduction in costs that are coming through to consumers as fast as possible,” U.K. Treasury Chief Jeremy Hunt said during The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in London.
The government’s Competition and Markets Authority last week said it would take a closer look at retailers.
“Given ongoing concerns about high prices, we are stepping up our work in the grocery sector to help ensure competition is working well,” said Sarah Cardell, who heads the CMA.
Some economists expect that added scrutiny to yield concrete results, assuming retailers won’t want to tarnish their image and will lean on their suppliers to keep prices down.
“With supermarkets now more heavily under the political spotlight, we think it more likely that price momentum in the food basket slows,” said Sanjay Raja, an economist at Deutsche Bank.
It isn’t entirely clear why food prices have risen so fast for so long. In world commodity markets, which set the prices received by farmers, food prices have been falling since April 2022. But raw commodity costs are just one part of the final price. Consumers are also paying for processing, packaging, transport and distribution, and the size of the gap between the farm and the dining table is unusually wide.
The BOE’s Bailey thinks one reason for the bank having misjudged food prices is that food producers entered into longer-term but relatively expensive contracts with fertilizer, energy and other suppliers around the time of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in their eagerness to guarantee availability at a time of uncertainty.
But as the pressures being placed on retailers suggest, some policy makers suspect that an increase in profit margins may also have played a role. Speaking to lawmakers, Bailey was wary of placing any blame on food suppliers.
“It’s a story about rebuilding margins that were squeezed in the early part of last year,” he said.
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