‘I’m not damning them’ but it will ‘end in tears’

Leon Cooperman told CNBC on Thursday he believes the Reddit-fueled trading frenzy involving GameStop shares will end poorly. However, the billionaire investor said he wasn’t faulting the people who kicked off the epic short squeeze, which sent the stock to dizzying heights in recent days.

“I’m not damning them. I’m just saying from my experience, this will end in tears,” Cooperman said on “Fast Money: Halftime Report,” as shares of the beleaguered video game retailer tumbled about 25%. Earlier in the session, GameStop’s stock touched an all-time high of $483 but came under pressure as numerous retail brokerages placed limits on trades.

Cooperman said he has no position in GameStop. However, on a quick glance at the financials, he said the company’s declining sales do not support such lofty levels in the current stock price or anything even close.

“GameStop is not worth $500, not worth $400, not worth $300, not worth $200, not even worth $100, not even worth $50,” said Cooperman, chairman of the Omega Family Office. He added that “investors” don’t own GameStop — only “speculators” do.

Cooperman said he believes the current moment in the stock market — including the online hype pumping up heavily shorted stocks — is a result of many factors, including the near-zero interest rates instituted by the Federal Reserve in response to the coronavirus pandemic. He also said the fiscal response from Congress is playing a role. 

“It’s all interconnected,” said Cooperman, the son of a Bronx plumber who later became one of Wall Street’s most successful investors. “The reason the market is doing what it’s doing is, people are sitting at home, getting their checks from the government, basically trading for no commissions and no interest rates. I’m not saying they’re stupid. Show me a guy with a good record consistently, and I’ll show you a smart guy.”

Just last week, Cooperman had warned about “euphoria” in parts of the stock market. GameStop shares were trading under $50 on the day of Cooperman’s remarks.

“I’ve been through cycles like this in the past. This is extreme, more so, but this too shall pass,” the hedge fund pioneer said Thursday. “At the end of the day, the stock market reflects economic progress or the lack thereof.” He added, “Water seeks its own level.”

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