AMC, GameStop short sellers make a comeback as meme stocks buckle

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(Reuters) – Shares of AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and GameStop (NYSE:GME) dropped further in early trading on Tuesday, extending declines that have helped short sellers recover more than $1 billion in losses in December.

Both companies were at the heart of the meme stocks phenomenon earlier this year, when individual investors coordinated on online message boards to fuel stunning rallies that cost short sellers billions of dollars.

Theater chain AMC dropped 8% to a new 7-month low at $21.31 and were on track for a fourth day of losses, while videogame retailer GameStop shed 4.3% to $131 – its lowest level since March.

Short-sellers have made $1.1 billion on their positions on AMC stock since the beginning of December, according to data from analytics firm Ortex. GameStop short-sellers have made $330 million since the start of the month. Both stocks have lost nearly a third of their value in December.

Still, so far this year, bearish investors have lost $1.3 billion on their bets on AMC and $11.78 billion in GameStop as their shares have rallied about 1,000% and 600% year-to-date, respectively.

The estimated short interest at AMC increased to 19% of its free float from 16% at the end of November, per Ortex data. GameStop short interest has shot up to 14% from 11% in the same period.

Insider selling at AMC last week added to worries over the Omicron coronavirus variant denting a recovery in theater attendance.

Retail traders were net sellers of equities for the first time since March 2021 in the week leading up to Dec. 8 in the largest outflow since Sep 2020, J.P.Morgan data showed last week.

Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research, said AMC investors are worried about the reopening trade, with comments from the UK that Omicron infections could become a tidal wave weighing on the sentiment.

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