It’s a Kodak moment for investor insanity on Wall Street – and the enormous run-up in Eastman Kodak’s stock is yet another example of the current market frothiness.
Shares of Kodak (KODK)are still up about 530% in the past five days – even after big slides at the end of last week and a drop of more than 20% Monday – following the news that the government will loan it $765 million to help produce drugs as part of a new pharmaceutical unit.
But Kodak won’t suddenly become the next Pfizer (PFE) or Merck (MRK) through this investment. While Kodak has experience producing chemicals for the film business, there is no guarantee that the company can easily morph into the decidedly different business of making pharmaceuticals.
Plus, Kodak (which went bankrupt in 2012 and emerged from Chapter 11 a year later) has a history of trying to cash in on other hot trends. It launched KODAKCoin in response to the bitcoin and cryptocurrency craze in 2018, for example.
And yet it appears Kodak has become a popular stock for younger day traders to buy and sell. According to data from Robintrack, a firm that follows holding patterns of traders using popular investing app Robinhood, Kodak is the most actively traded stock on the platform during the past week.
The only stocks with a bigger following in the past month on Robinhood are Elon Musk’s super-hot electric car company Tesla (TSLA), mega-cap techs Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Amazon (AMZN) and biotech Moderna (MRNA), which is working on a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Kodak runup is reminiscent of the speculative surge in bankrupt companies earlier this year. Hertz (HTZ), JCPenney (JCP) and oil driller Diamond Offshore (DO) are just a few of the stocks that surged after Chapter 11 filings.
“The market is more driven by retail [investors] in the short term than it has been in some time,” said Jason Brady, president and CEO of Thornburg Investment Management, in an email to CNN Business.
But that sugar rush may not last long. The big slide in Kodak’s shares over the past few days could be a sign that short sellers – investors who bet the stock will go down – are borrowing more shares and selling them, pushing the price lower in the process.
Other investors may be looking to lock in huge gains from the past week and are now dumping shares, said Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners, in a report.
Either way, the quick rise and sharp pullback in Kodak stock is yet another clear example that retail investors are trading for the short-term and not buying for the long haul.
Thornburg’s Brady described the popularity of stocks with poor fundamentals like Kodak as an example that the stock market has “jumped the shark.”