GameStop short sellers were up $400 million last month, but now they're down $1.4 billion after the stock nearly tripled in May

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Skeptics betting against video-game retailer GameStop Corp. are facing a more than $1 billion loss after the company’s share price roughly tripled this month.

Shares of the meme-stock soared as much as 119% in a raucous open Monday amid a flurry of trading activity that triggered at least eight halts for volatility in the opening hour. With the stock up some 185% in May, mark-to-market losses for short-sellers has ballooned to $1.4 billion, according to S3 Partners data.

Shares of the Grapevine, Texas-based company trimmed Monday’s gains to 65% at 11:20 a.m. in New York. 

The meme-stock phenomenon became a public frenzy in 2021 as cash-rich investors pumped up the stock market and bet against short-selling hedge funds. The mania delivered huge losses to the likes of Gabe Plotkin’s Melvin Capital Management, which shuttered, and rich returns to those placing bets early in the frenzy before stocks like GameStop came crashing down.

Short sellers that bet against GameStop had been winning through the first four months of the year, a signal that meme-stock volatility can quickly erase paper gains. Skeptics were up an estimated $400 million from January to April, S3 data show, before falling back into the red on the whole through Monday morning. 

The amount of GameStop shares sold short as a percentage of those available for trading has stayed at roughly 24%, according to financial analytics firm S3 Partners. That’s elevated for a typical company but nowhere near the levels of 140% that preceded the 2021 mania.

The cost to bet against the company has been trading higher over the past week as shares picked up gains, with recent borrowing costs at a greater than 10% annual financing fee range, S3 data show.

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