And now, what may be the craziest story of the day.
Less than a week ago, one of the countless fly-by-night biotech pennystocks, drug developer KaloBios Pharmaceuticals said it would wind down its operations and that it had engaged restructuring firm Brenner Group to help liquidate its assets. The company said it was "highly unlikely that exploring strategic options could generate a viable transaction within the time frame, given its limited cash resources."
At that moment the stock was trading between $1-2/share, representing a market cap between $5 and $10 million, or in other words, liquidation value.
And then, last night, America's "most hated person", Martin Shkreli, whose price-gouging antics were the catalyst that unleashed the biotech rout over a month ago, decided to get involved.
As KBIO announced after the close, the company "has been informed that an investor group comprised of Martin Shkreli and associates together have acquired more than 50% of the outstanding shares of KaloBios, and that the company is in discussions with Mr. Shkreli regarding possible direction for the company to continue in operation. Mr. Shkreli is the founder and chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, a privately held biopharmaceutical company.
"We have received communications from Mr. Shkreli informing us of his group's ownership position, and a proposal to continue the company's operations," said Ronald Martell, Executive Chairman of KaloBios. "Our board of directors is prepared to entertain any constructive proposal, which we will act upon promptly. Addressing short-term cash needs is our first priority, and we continue to be open to further dialogue," he concluded.
As a result, the stock exploded higher, and has since hit a whopping $16/share in the pre-market, an increase of over 650%.
Blatant manipulation? Perhaps - after all, this is not much different from what Oprah Winfrey did with Weight Watchers stock which jumped simply because the media diva had bought sizable stake in WTW stocks. Ultimately, it will be up to the SEC to decide.
However where this story gets abusrdly entertaining, or woefully tragic, depending on one's perspective, is that one trader, Joe Campbell, was on the wrong side of last night's massive surge. As the RutRho blog, which noticed it first explains, a "dummy" E-trader, Joe Campbell, decided to go $35,000 short KBIO "and now owes $ETFC a wonderful $106K."
But it was Campbell's decision what to do next, that is perhaps a first in the history of the market place.
The "faily new trader" decided to give online begging a try, and has launched a GoFundMe campaign seeking to "crowdfund" the $106,445 margin call.
From his just Gaunched GoFundMe website:
Hello to all you traders out there. I'm starting this page out of the recommendation of other traders in the community.
I hesitated on doing this but I literally owe Etrade $106,445.56 as of this moment what would you do if you were in my situation? I'll do whats needed and sell what I have to get them paid but if someone feels my pain and is willing to help out---who am I to say no?
If you don't want to donate I understand, at least read my story of what happened today and protect yourself from the same happening to you! This is a terrible lesson for me but if this helps just one person than I'm happy I wrote this.
I'm a fairly new trader, been trading since about March of this year. I have learned alot about the community and trading...well not enough about trading as you will soon hear.
I have a fairly small account, but its over PDT. As of this morning it was $37,000. I keep it small because I wanted to manage risk, the most I can afford to lose is what I have in the account....$37,000. When I get some profits I take them out of the account because I wouldn't want to lose more than $37k.
I was holding KBIO short overnight for what I thought was a nice $2.00 fade coming. At the close of the bell I saw the quote montage clear out and figured today there was no action after hours in the stock. So I went to my office for a long meeting. I got out of the meeting and saw a message from one of my buddys, he asked if I was ok since I was short KBIO....my heart dropped. "Shoot did I blow up my account, everything I worked for? I don't want to lose all $37,000 that would be terrible." ---It was much worse.
The stock was at $16 and my account was negative over 100k. I figured it was a mistake, Etrade would never let that happen, they must have cut the position when my account got to $0....nope. I immediately called them and they confirmed I still owned all the shares. He says that it got out of hand too fast for them to cover me, he says that all he can do right now is cover. I was devistated. I asked him to cover at $16 and he waited trying to find me a good exit. I told him to do it asap and the fill was around $18.50 avg.
At the moment not only is my $37k gone, but I now owe ETrade the negative balance of over $106k. I always knew I could blow up an account and I was financially able to "afford" to lose the $37k. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that Etrade would NOT have some sort of stop or circuit breaker in place that would automatically cut a position if the account went to $0.....how could they ever let it get to -$144k loss on a account that small! Also, why did I have to call them to find out what was going on, why did they not alert me or call me when it went neg???
I'm never one to ask for a handout and honestly I'm kinda not sure if I should post this but here we go. I'm sure it will cause lots of controversy on whether or not I deserve even a $1 donation but it doesn't hurt to ask. Anything you traders can do to help me get a little out of this hole would be a blessing for me. Anything donated will go 100% to simply paying Etrade some of this $106,445.56.
My plan moving forward is to liquidate mine and wife's 401k's and try work out a payment plan with Etrade. I'm also going to ask them to help out in some way...thats a longshot. I will pay them and be back trading....only with set stops this time. What an expensive lesson that was.
I hope my story helps someone else from the same.
Here are screenshots of the damage.
An expensive lesson indeed. The Rut blog is less than friendly in its assessment:
The dummy puts in $35K on a short and now owes $ETFC a wonderful $106K.
Let's give this American Youth a round of applause for being smart enough to open a website trading account and dumb enough to buy KBIO. This stupid shit who can't handle responsibility needs to be offered advice, not get a bailout from us. Stupid people.
So please, email Joe Campbell and tell him to take responsibility. The "fairly new trader" Who started in March. You think he'd be donating that cash to all the other people who might now be starting GoFundMe pages to subsidize their horrible trading choices?....Ackman might take note.
We on the other hand have some sympathy: as we have been warning for years, the market is not only broken (thanks to HFTs), and manipulated (thanks to central banks), but is an all-out unregulated wild west, as the SEC is seemingly hell bent on cracking down on Indian and Russian "spoofers" when the real manipulators walk around not only free but with millions.
That said, we do hope that Joe's rookie mistake is a wake up call for anyone who hopes to get rich quick on whatever levered "lottery ticket" du jour is, be it biotechs, retail stocks, commodities, or whatever else the HFTs are momentuming at any one millisecond.
As for Joe, good luck: as of this moment he has raised $141.
He only has $106,304 more to go.