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Return of the meme stock: Bed Bath & Beyond shares skyrocket

NEW YORK — After a quiet first half of 2022, the meme stock is back. Beyond and back, in fact.

Shares in Bed Bath & Beyond jumped 25% Wednesday on huge trading volume, and the mall-based home goods retailer’s stock has nearly quintupled in a little more than two weeks. If the stock’s price holds until the market closes, it will be the fourth straight day it has gained more than 20%.

The inexplicable recent rise — a hallmark of so-called meme stocks — comes as Bed Bath & Beyond continues to lose money on plummeting sales as it struggles to navigate the post-pandemic retail landscape.

Bed Bath & Beyond fired CEO Mark Tritton in June after the company based in Union, New Jersey, reported a 25% drop-off in sales in its most recent quarter, which followed a 22% sales decline the previous quarter. Tritton, who as CEO of Target revitalized that retailer by introducing a bevy of new brands, laid out a similar plan for Bed Bath & Beyond in 2021, but with far less success.

It’s hard to pinpoint why anyone would pour money into a company that’s flashing as many warning signs as Bed Beth & Beyond, but it echos the 2021 trend where small investors banded together in online forums like Reddit’s WallStreetBets to stoke a frenzy over certain struggling companies, like GameStop, AMC and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Bed Bath & Beyond shares also skyrocketed in March when the investment firm of billionaire Ryan Cohen took a 10% stake in the company and recommended that it sell all or part of its business. Cohen, a co-founder at Chewy, was at heart of the GameStop meme saga last year.

Cohen built a huge following on Reddit and on social media in 2021 as smaller investors gobbled up meme stocks.

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