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Why GameStop's stock could rise much, much higher

The meteoric rise in GameStop's stock price is being called a short squeeze by most. But that's not what's happening, says one expert, and that could mean that if and when the short squeeze does come GameStop's price could soar significantly higher than current levels.

What's happening: Short sellers have piled into GameStop as a result of its meteoric stock price rise, not the other way around, Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at S3 Partners, told Axios.

  • Over the past year the amount of shares shorted has increased by 12%, while the total dollars at risk have risen by 1,900%, S3's data show.
  • That's a sign that big bets are coming in from hedge funds and institutional investors, meaning that the short squeeze has not even begun.

How it works: In a typical short squeeze, short sellers have sold the stock and "rented" shares with the intent to buy them after the stock's price falls. But they are "squeezed" out if the price rises too much and they are forced to exit the trade by buying the stock at a higher price.

  • That helps the value of the stock rise because the short sellers join the momentum pushing the price higher.
  • But with GameStop, every time a short seller exits the market and buys shares, new short sellers are coming in to replace them, keeping the same downward pressure on the price and, in fact, short interest is increasing.

What it means: "That tells me what’s moving the market is the long buyers. This is not a short covering rally," Dusaniwsky said.

  • "If it was I would see shares shorted dropping precipitously. For this kind of price move, I would have to see short interest being wiped out."
  • "One way I can see short interest is not being wiped out is because the stock borrow rate is getting higher.
  • "That means shorts are not getting out on a net basis."

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