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Earnings Outlook: GameStop earnings countdown: But what’s the fun in fundamentals, say Reddit traders on the rocket emoji launchpad

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GameStop devotees have made it clear that they “like the stock,” and not even the company’s first earnings results since the Reddit-fueled rally will change that opinion.

The videogame retailer, the OG meme stock, is set to report its fourth-quarter 2020 earnings after the market close on Tuesday. But while Wall Street is taking a cautious approach to valuing the bricks-and-mortar company, rocket emojis are apparently not subject to the usual laws of physics and finance. Users on Reddit board WallStreetBets flush with “diamond hands,” say they’re ready to buy more GameStop
GME,
-2.89%

regardless of what Tuesday’s quarterly results say about fundamentals.

“Damn this volume is so low,” one Reddit user moaned Monday morning, analyzing what they saw as quiet premarket action and concluding “people waiting for earnings to buy in.”

That sentiment was echoed by another user as GameStop tumbled more than 5% in early trading, writing “200 is the new $40. Buy up before we move to $500.”

Tuesday will be GameStop’s first official statement on its financial picture since January’s manic rally sent the stock up more than 1,641% in a matter of days as hordes of traders used social-media platforms like Discord and Reddit and no-fee apps like Robinhood to trade GameStop shares “to the moon.”

That rally came despite GameStop’s results for Q3 2020. In December, the company disclosed that sales were down more than $1 billion year-over-year, a 30.2% plunge, creating a huge short interest in the stock and giving more power to activist investor Ryan Cohen, who has publicly shared his opinion that GameStop’s antiquated sales model needs to be updated pronto, with a shift to digital sales.

For mainstream watchers of GameStop stock, expectations remain low but Tuesday does present the first opportunity for Cohen to articulate his vision. Cohen, the Chewy Inc. co-founder, became a member of GameStop’s board of directors at the start of 2021 and thus far his communications have been limited to social-media memes, including this one where he tweeted the image of a McDonald’s ice cream cone:

And this one, riffing off the buddy-comedy flick “Dumb and Dumber:”

“Whether they beat estimates or not is a moot point,” said Thomas H. Kee Jr., founder of Stock Traders Daily. “If they fail to make some sort of announcement, it will be terrible for the stock.”

GameStop is expected to report earnings per share of $1.35, or $88 million, on $2.211 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, according to consensus estimates of six analysts surveyed by FactSet. Those estimates have been steadily falling from October when consensus estimates were predicting Q4 EPS at $1.80 and revenue of $2.52 billion.

Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying that its impossible for GameStop’s results to reflect its roughly $14 billion valuation.

“There is not an institutional investor alive who is considering going long at $200” a share, Pachter said. “This is not a dot-com that’s just starting up.” Indeed, GameStop was founded in 1984 in Dallas under the name Babbage’s Etc.

In any case, GameStop’s Reddit army isn’t subtle about its disdain for flinty-eyed Wall Street analysts.

“Got to love all these guys saying it’s over and to sell,” wrote one user midday Monday, sarcastically adding ”I’m sure you were the same guys who predicted the first two spikes?”

“It’s fine if we dip a bit today,” mused another user. “Just makes things juicy for the earnings/conference call run up.”

For Kee, there is one way for GameStop to surprise the market: “Unless they pivot to a digital model, they will collapse and fail,” he said.

“There’s no way they justify the stock price, but they could maybe come close if they announce some huge event like a pivot to digital.” 

Regardless of what GameStop reports on Tuesday, the company has set a new bar for watching its equity value move with parabolic volatility between earnings calls, a market phenomenon best summarized by another WallStreetBets user on Monday.

“I’ve learned 99% of what I know about the stock market based on GME,” they wrote. “Which means after GME I will need to relearn everything again because this doesn’t seem like a normal situation to me.”

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