American Airlines’ stock price rose Thursday as retail investors who had mixed up other stocks in recent days turned their attention to the ailing airline.
The company’s stock rose as much as 30 percent at a time before most of those gains were abandoned. American was trading at around $ 18 as of 12:30 p.m., an increase of around 9 percent. The airline also reported its 2020 financial results on Thursday, saying it lost nearly $ 8.9 billion over the past year.
On the social media website Reddit, traders on the Wall Street Bets page, a community known for their disrespectful market discussions, have spiked stocks of other troubled companies like GameStop and AMC over the past few days they tried to take over some of Wall Street’s most discerning investors. In a post on Wednesday night, a Reddit user suggested that Americans should be next as many professional investors had bet against its stock.
In a call to analysts and reporters on Thursday, US chief executive Doug Parker said the airline would not comment on stock activity.
“Before I begin my prepared observations, I would like to precaution by declaring that we will not comment on or respond to recent activity in our stock price,” said Parker. “As a rule, we do not speculate about the daily movements of our stock price and will adhere to this rule today.”
The Reddit traders have focused on companies that are the focus of short selling. With this maneuver, investors are betting that a company’s share price will fall.
American Airlines is the most shortened US airline, according to S3 Partners, a data firm tracking this trade. Short sales make up about 23 percent of their total stocks. (JetBlue ranks second at just 4.9 percent of its shares.) Professional investors view Americans as particularly problematic as they entered the coronavirus pandemic with far more debt than Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.
If they are right, short sellers can make substantial profits. But when stock prices rise, they can cause huge losses. By increasing the price of stocks that have been sharply cut, retail investors coordinating on Reddit, Discord and other online platforms have put pressure on professional investors and forced some to abandon their short trades to reduce their losses.
By noon, Robinhood, the trading service popular with amateur investors, said it had restricted trading in certain company stocks, including American, GameStop, AMC, and Best Buy, angering some of its users. On Twitter, the New York Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described the move as “unacceptable”.