Redditors’ plan to use GameStop playbook for glove makers unravels


A bid by Malaysian amateur investors to pull off a short squeeze-fueled rally in glove makers is fizzling out, just like the one by their American peers in GameStop Corp.

Shares in Top Glove Corp., the sector’s bellwether and Malaysia’s most shorted stock, have given up almost all of the gains it made since some investors started Bursabets, a Reddit community idealized after r/wallstreetbets to defend Malaysian stocks. Top Glove topped the sell list for retail investors for the week ended Feb. 5, a report by CGS-CIMB Securities Sdn. showed. And short positions have started inching up again.

From its start on Jan. 28, the online forum was up in arms with a rallying call: support medical glove makers whose shares had come under pressure from short sellers following their meteoric gains in 2020. The forum now has almost 13,000 members.

Now those calls to buy and hold them are falling on deaf ears for three key reasons.

  • Slowing virus infections and global vaccine rollouts are instilling confidence that the pandemic’s end is in sight and therefore the extraordinary demand for gloves is set to ease.
  • The frenzy in American stocks popular with Reddit crowds has itself started to come crashing down. GameStop’s shares dropped 5.9% in New York trading, adding to last week’s 80% plunge, a drop that followed three weeks of dizzying gains.
  • Malaysia, like many other Asian markets, limits the amount of short selling that can happen on a stock. So technically there weren’t any gigantic short positions in glove makers to begin with.

Top Glove is about 1.3% away from its pre-Bursabets level as of 11:57 a.m. in Kuala Lumpur trading, while its rival Supermax Corp. fell below that level on Monday. Hartalega Holdings Bhd. is about 3.5% away from reaching that zone. These stocks had been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the global pandemic last year.