‘Meme’ stock-market trend around AMC, GameStop may be more persistent than you think, says report

Think meme stock investing is a fad? Think again. That is, at least, according to a new report from financial advisory firm Betterment.

About 97% of those in a recent survey conducted by the digital investment advisor, who said that they had invested in stocks driven primarily by social-media mentions rather than fundamentals would continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Such meme investing trends have been the main drivers behind purchases of companies like bricks-and-mortar videogame retailer GameStop Corp
, movie chain AMC Entertainment Holdings

and BlackBerry Ltd.
who made a ubiquitous cellphone that was all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Stocks and crypto like dogecoin
that aren’t necessarily offering compelling use-cases, or earnings, are rising on the dint of the collective might of retail investors gathering on sites like Reddit and Discord. It’s a trend that has long been viewed as doomed to implode at some point, but individual investors surveyed by Betterment between late April and early May, who invested in meme stocks before say that they will continue to be investors in that category of investing.

According to the Betterment survey, “there is a near-universal consensus that they will continue investing in stocks like these that get a lot of attention in the future -97% said they’re at least somewhat likely to invest,”

That is even as the outlook for GameStop, AMC and its ilk look uncertain.

Betterment’s survey included a panel of 1,500 respondents from April 26 to May 3, who were 18 years and older and have any kind of investment (excluded if only 401(k)). Of the total, half of them actively day traded their investments.

All that said, most of the respondents in the research survey indicated that they had some understanding of meme investments while nearly a quarter, 24%, said they didn’t understand it well at all.

Investments like GameStop have captured the imagination of young investors because of the stratospheric gains it has seen.

For example, shares of GamStop are up 1,054% on the year and those for AMC have risen more than 2,500%, while dogecoin is up nearly 5,000% in the year to date.

By comparison, more traditional assets have seen more muted, although strong gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

and the S&P 500 index

are up nearly 12% and over 13%, respectively. The Nasdaq Composite Index

is up by about 12% after a stellar rally in June so far.

A number of investment funds have cropped up in the hope of capturing some of that Reddit buzz, including the VanEck Vectors Social Sentiment ETF
with the apt ticker “BUZZ.” That exchange-traded fund is up 12.2% over the past three months and has gained 6.5% in June, outperforming the Nasdaq Composite’s June gain of 4.5%.

As with many anecdotal studies, the Betterment report concluded that government stimulus checks and stay-at-home protocols in place during the worst of the COVID pandemic helped to foster the move by retail investors into trading and investing.


“While most day traders indicated their main reason for doing so was that they believed they could make more money in a shorter period of time (58%), many (43%) also indicated it was because it is fun and entertaining,” according to the report.

About 54% of respondents said that the pandemic made them trade more often.

The idea that retail investing will continue to be a phenomenon may not be far-fetched at all, even if the meme stock fad subsides somewhat.

According to estimates from JMP Securities, new brokerage accounts opened by individual investors have already roughly matched the total created throughout 2020, hitting more than 10 million, in just the first half of 2021.

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