Inspired by GameStop, Malaysian retail investors look to prop up medical glove shares

Inspired by GameStop, Malaysian retail investors look to prop up medical glove shares
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 28): Malaysian retail investors are looking to buy stocks of medical glove makers to drive up their share prices and squeeze out short sellers, drawing inspiration from the recent rally at US firm GameStop Corp.

Shares of GameStop have surged 1,700% in just two weeks as amateur US investors piled in and forced hedge funds to lose billions on their short positions.

The WallStreetBets forum on Reddit, where small investors discuss stocks anonymously, is seen as having fuelled the GameStop rally.

In a new forum on Reddit called BursaBets, created on Thursday, Malaysian retail investors discussed buying up stocks of glove makers, and complained about share prices having dropped in recent months even as the firms' profits grew.

Malaysia is the world's largest producer of medical gloves, demand for which has soared due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Whoever is still holding gloves (has) already been through hell, join me by saying 'eff you' to investment banks, fund managers, market manipulators, and everyone else," said an user called '_Revenant_' who started the BursaBets forum.

The national stock exchange is called Bursa Malaysia.

"We're gonna be fighting in our markets tomorrow," the user said, adding that WallStreetsBets has inspired "us to bring our market back into our control".

Discussions in the forum centered around Top Glove — the biggest glove making company — and short positions in the sector.

Investors short stocks they see as vulnerable to weakness by borrowing them for a fee and selling them with the aim of buying them back at a lower price. If the stock continues to rise, they may have to buy back at a higher price.

Those betting on a rise also risk losing their investment if the price increase proves unsustainable.

Institutional investors typically drive share moves. Analysts have noted an increase in retail interest in Malaysian glove makers in the past year, though it is unclear how much of an impact any retail buying may have.

Top Glove gained 290% last year, hitting an all-time high of RM9.76 per share in August, but it has since fallen nearly 40% as Covid-19 vaccines became available. It reported a record profit in December.

Investors have also raised questions about the company's treatment of staff after over 5,000 factory workers became infected with the coronavirus.

Shares of other glove makers — Supermax Corp, Hartalega Holdings and Kossan Rubber Industries — have also seen similar rallies and declines.

Top Glove, Kossan and Hartalega were the three most shorted stocks as of Jan 27, according to data from the stock exchange. Supermax was in the top ten.

Malaysian markets were closed on Thursday for a public holiday, and are set to reopen on Friday.