WeWork’s stock soared on its over-the-counter debut this week
In a strange flashback to the demise of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., WeWork Inc.’s stock soared on its over-the-counter debut this week, just days after the office sharing company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
WeWork WEWKQ, +23.02% filed for Chapter 11 in New Jersey on Monday and the beleaguered company’s stock was halted before the open that day. The New York Stock Exchange started the delisting process for WeWork that same day.
Trading resumed over the counter on Wednesday, with WeWork shares ending their first session as an OTC stock up 91.5%.
WeWork Chapter 11 a meme stock reality check: ‘No one should ever buy a stock that is rumored to be headed to bankruptcy’
A similar scenario happened when shares of Bed Bath & Beyond began trading over the counter in May after the Nasdaq started the delisting process for the bankrupt home-goods retailer and sometime meme-stock darling. Despite Bed Bath & Beyond’s well-documented woes, the stock ended its first session as an OTC stock up 30.4%. Bed Bath & Beyond’s shares were canceled in September.
In June Overstock.com acquired Bed Bath & Beyond’s intellectual property, and began operating as Bed Bath & Beyond, before changing its corporate name to Beyond Inc. BYON, +2.06%.
Like Bed Bath & Beyond, WeWork has continued to attract investor attention even as the company’s problems mounted. In mid-September WeWork’s stock saw a record run-up amid meme stock chatter, just weeks after WeWork warned that it may not be able to stay in business.
Users on social media noted the activity in WeWork’s share price this week, with Twitter user @asunapg warning Thursday that the OTC markets are “much more volatile and often a death trap for a lot of companies.”
“Here we go again” tweeted @B2Investor Friday, with popcorn and clown emojis.
WeWork’s stock ended Thursday’s session down 21.3% and the stock is down 12.7% Friday, compared with the S&P 500 index’s SPX gain of 1.3%.
Tom Bruni, head of content at StockTwits, a social platform for investors and traders, told MarketWatch that, from what he is seeing, there doesn’t seem to be broad interest in the stock.
“Unlike Bed Bath & Beyond and others where it seemed possible to restructure and continue operating, the current situation for WeWork is mainly a math equation,” he told MarketWatch. “It’s looking most likely that it’ll be bought out, the question is at what price and how much cash (if anything) does that leave for common shareholders to receive? The consensus right now is that all value from its 52 million shares of common stock will be wiped out.”
Set against this backdrop, short covering could be driving the stock price up in the short term, according to Bruni. “Many market participants don’t want to risk being squeezed by unexpected good news, so they’d rather take their gains than ride it all the way down to zero,” he said. “Should that high short interest start to create sustainable upside momentum (more than a few days), then we’d likely see other traders get involved on the long side.”
“But for now, with earnings season in full swing, there’s plenty of volatility and news elsewhere for investors/traders to focus on,” he added.