Handful of hedge funds bet big on GameStop before its wild ride

FILE PHOTO: A GameStop store is pictured in New York
FILE PHOTO: A GameStop store is pictured in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

February 17, 2021

By David Randall and Svea Herbst-Bayliss

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A handful of small hedge funds were in a position to profit from the Reddit rally that sent shares of GameStop Corp and other out-of-favor stocks rocketing higher last month at the expense of prominent investors who had bet against the stocks, according to securities filings released Tuesday.

Hedge funds including Maverick Capital, Shellback Capital, Landscape Capital Management, and Engineers Gate Manager LP were among those that added a new position or increased their stakes in GameStop during the quarter that ended Dec. 30, according to a regulatory filings known as 13-Fs. Had each fund sold its shares of GameStop near the record closing price of $347.15, they would have banked gains of 1,600% or more.

Shellback, for instance, could have seen its 200,000 shares reach a value as high as $69.5 million had it held through Jan. 27, a gain of nearly 1,750% from its market value of $3,768,000 at the end of December.

Hedge fund Senvest, which told the Wall Street Journal that it scored a $700 million profit on the GameStop position, increased its position in the company by 56% when it bought 1.8 mln shares.

Maverick, increased its stake by 164%, or 2.9 million shares, leaving it with 4.7 million shares, regulatory filings show.

The filings do not include short positions and funds may also have been short, which would have diminished profits from long positions.

GameStop shares surged as investors following the Reddit forum WallStreetBets bought the stock hoping to punish hedge funds such as Melvin Capital Management that had taken short positions in the stock. Melvin lost more than 50% in January, requiring a $2.75 billion capital infusions from hedge funds Point72 Asset Management and Citadel.

Other hedge funds that entered January with bearish bets against GameStop included Maplelane Capital and Sculptor Capital, according to securities filings.

Maverick, Shellback Capital, Landscape Capital Management, and Engineers Gate Manager LP and Senvest did not respond for requests to comment for this story.

OTHER BETS

Along with positions in GameStop, hedge fund managers navigated a quarter that included the addition of electric car maker Tesla Inc to the benchmark S&P 500 and President Donald Trump’s unsuccessful attempts to overturn the result of the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Tesla’s inclusion in the S&P 500 forced index-tracking funds to buy shares, boosting its shares during the fourth quarter. Some hedge fund such as Coatue Management significantly cut back their stakes during the same time period, leaving them less likely to gain from the company’s 13.4% gain for the year to date.

George Soros’ Soros Fund Management exited its position in Twitter Inc while Kerrisdale Capital, whose founder told Reuters this year the company is enjoying a turnaround, cut its stake by 29%.

Shares of the company are up nearly 37% for the year to date.

Tiger Global, meanwhile, appeared to be betting big on several newly-public companies, raising its stakes in GoodRx Holdings Inc, DoorDash, Snowflake Inc, Airbnb, and Tencent Music Entertainment Group.

(Reporting by David Randall and Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Megan Davies and David Gregorio)