Picking on somewhat under-the-radar players like ViacomCBS and Discovery Inc. has allowed some investors to make -- and lose -- money on these media stocks recently.
We have seen this trend, in part, with the whole rise and fall of GameStop amid the active Reddit board -- r/wallstreetbets. Now ViacomCBS and Discovery seem to be in play in a different way.
For its part, ViacomCBS had been languishing in the low $20- to-$25-a-share range for some time. And then, almost out of the blue, the stock rocketed up three times that level to over $100.
Initially, media analysts on ViacomCBS (and Discovery) assumed it was due to expected rising fortunes coming from the direct-to-consumer (D2C) businesses, Paramount+ and discovery+, respectively.
In reality, these new businesses still have a long road to travel to get to the top, where Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video and others reside.
It turns out that these stock sharp gains were more related to stock-market manipulation. Adding to the issue was the use of “derivatives” — financial instruments investors use to make bets with Wall Street trading desks about where stock prices will go, without having to buy the actual shares.
Offshore hedge fund Archegos Capital Management was operating around here -- betting ViacomCBS and other companies stocks would rise. Instead, they fell.
And that meant Archegos had to meet a margin call with banks. Then all hell broke loose -- which, for a day or so, threw the overall market into some turmoil. (Archegos also had a sizable position in many other stocks, media and non-media.)
Some believe there should be more regulation in this area.
But considering the issues around GameStop, mostly a brick-and-mortar retailer of video games -- and, to a certain extent the big U.S. movie theater operation, AMC Entertainment -- one wonders whether entertainment/TV/media companies might continue to be vulnerable through other bad-actor manipulations.