Markets

GameStop shares gain more than 18%, halted multiple times as Reddit favorites swing wildly

Key Points
  • Investors piled into the bricks-and-mortar video game retailer on Wednesday after the reported ousting of Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell, sending the stock soaring 103.9%.
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Shares of GameStop jumped again on Thursday but finished well off session highs as stocks featured in January's short squeeze saw another jolt of volatility.

The stock closed with a gain of 18.7% for the day at just under $109 per share after being halted multiple times during the session. The stock nearly hit $185 per share at its high water mark of the day.

The volatile day came after investors piled into the bricks-and-mortar video game retailer on Wednesday following the reported ousting of Chief Financial Officer Jim Bell, sending the stock soaring 103.9% before trading was halted.

The company announced Tuesday that Bell will resign on March 26, with reports suggesting that Ryan Cohen – GameStop investor and co-founder of online pet food retailer Chewy -- and the board forced the move in order to accelerate its transition online.

GameStop and Cohen have largely remained quiet during the volatile stock moves, though Cohen did post a cryptic Tweet on Wednesday that included a photo of an ice cream cone.

Jefferies analyst Stephanie Wissink said in a note that the change may have come from GameStop's discussions with an activist investor that occurred before the late-January price surge.

"We acknowledge that leadership changes often follow activist settlements and Mr. Bell's exit was mutual, non-immediate, and suggests no disagreements with company/board," Wissink said in a note.

Telsey Advisory Group also said in a note that Bell had performed well in the role.

"Since joining GameStop in June 2019, departing CFO Jim Bell played a key role in building the foundation of GameStop's transformation, including cutting costs, managing inventory, improving the capital structure, and investing in key areas, such as digital. We wish Mr. Bell the best in future endeavors," the note said.

GameStop was at the center of a period of market mayhem in late January as retail traders led by multi-million-member Reddit thread WallStreetBets sent its share price skyrocketing, causing a short-squeeze on a number of Wall Street hedge funds with bets on its decline.

However, some analysts have suggested that there was also some institutional involvement in the ballooning share price.

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GameStop CFO Jim Bell will resign by March 26

Another stock caught up in the retail frenzy, AMC Entertainment, finished with a loss of more than 8% on Thursday after soaring earlier in the day. The stock climbed 18% on Wednesday. The cinema chain has been bolstered by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announcing that movie theaters in the city could open with limited capacity next month.

Meanwhile, headphone manufacturer and fellow Reddit favorite Koss Corp jumped more than 16% on Thursday but also finished well below its highs of the session.

-CNBC's Jesse Pound contributed to this story.