(Bloomberg) — Clover Health Inc., a health insurer backed by venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, posted a second day of wild gains that appear to be driven by retail investors determined to punish short-sellers betting against it.
Clover rallied 72% at 1:25 p.m. in New York trading after briefly doubling. The gains erased five months of losses in the stock — which formed part of a broader selloff in Palihapitiya-backed companies — in just two days. Trading volume in Clover was more than 22 times the three-month daily average on Tuesday, with a record 559 million shares changing hands.
The sudden flurry of demand comes after retail traders realized that short-sellers had been swelling their bets against Clover, a move that left them vulnerable if the stock were to start rallying.
On the Reddit forum WallStreetBets, chatter has built this week on the potential for a short-squeeze in the stock, following similar successful ploys on meme stocks including Workhorse Group Inc. and Richard Branson’s space exploration company Virgin Galactic, which advanced 19% and 5.6%, respectively.
Bearish bets in Clover have been steadily climbing since March and now stand at over $570 million or 42% of the public float, according to data from S3 Partners. Daytraders also touted the stock’s potential inclusion into the Russell indices — a rebalancing of those benchmarks is expected toward the end of June.
Read more: AMC, Wendy’s Lead Rally as Meme Stocks Rise for a Second Day
“Short sellers appear to be shorting into a rising market and overheated stocks, they are looking for a pullback off of these elevated levels,” said Ihor Dusaniwsky, S3’s managing director of predictive analytics.
Short sellers were down about $465 million on today’s move for a year-to-date loss of $517 million, he said.
Clover declined to comment on the moves.
Other retail-trader favorites, such as AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and GameStop Corp., see-sawed on Tuesday amid heavy volume. Wendy’s Co., the latest addition to the retail-trader frenzy, climbed to a record amid touts on Reddit.
“The power of the network effect of social media entices more people to get involved, so then they start broadening their horizons, looking for other names that have high short interest and things like that,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading.
(Updates shares throughout.)
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