Some have called it the "pot.com" mania and it was on full display yesterday with momentum frenzy stock du jour, Tilray, went absolutely berserk.
Bloomberg's Arie Shapira perhaps summarized the pot stock mania best, "with everyone and their mother either watching the madness unfold on their trading screens, trying to get a borrow to short the stock followed by relief that they never were able to short followed by wishing they were short all along, feeling major FOMO, or contemplating whether what they were witnessing was more like the crypto craze of last year, the freakouts from the rare earths (remember Molycorp?) to alternative energy and 3D printers at various points over the past 15 years, the dot com bubble, the tulip bulb crash of the 17th century, and so forth."
Stated less poetically, on Wednesday Tilray soared 94%, then wiped out the entire gain in under an hour, only to finish 40% higher than where it started, all in the span of 5 trading halts.
The fluctuations drew comparisons to the Bitcoin craze and the peak of the dot-com bubble. It also prompted many to ask the Fed if this was indicative of behavior of a market "without" asset bubbles.
Well, get ready for round two.
One day after Tilray took investors on "perhaps the wildest day yet for the nascent industry", the stock is set for another day of unprecedented volatility and mayhem, with huge swings in premarket trading falling as much as 7% before trading higher by 13% as more than 300,000 shares have already traded hands in the low-float stock, whose top shareholder owns ~70% of the shares outstanding.
Once again the pot euphoria is contagious, as Canopy Growth’s ADRs rose 3.1% while the ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund added 4.1% according to Bloomberg.
"When you get big moves like this, you suddenly have a lot of people paying attention,” said Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. "People are going to be watching a little closer and there probably will be more human involvement today than yesterday."
Which means that the violent moves could be even more volatile.
"It’s almost like everyone wanted to express their fear and greed through one entity,” Robert W. Baird's Michael Antonelli told Bloomberg. "It’s fun to watch. It’s the wild west right now for cannabis. It isn’t the kind of thing that institutions would touch."
Whether it is indeed "everyone" or just a handful of algos trading the low-float stock back and forth remains to be seen but on Wednesday, almost $6.5 billion worth of Tilray shares traded hands, second only to Amazon.com’s $7.6 billion, whose stock is 47 times greater than Tilray’s $20 billion market valuation.
Another sign of the insanity: the company with 500x forward P/E finished the day bigger than 40% of the companies in the S&P 500.
“The behavior is very reminiscent of the internet bubble,” said Michael O’Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading Institutional Services. "A nascent industry, a company with what is viewed as first mover advantage, a small float and some media hype is a dangerous recipe for investors."
But what is perhaps most interesting, is the inverse correlation between Tilray and the old momentum favorite, cryptos, which sold off as Tilray surged and then spiked as TLRY tumbled.
Commenting on the last hour trading frenzy in TLRY, Don Selkin, chief market strategist at Newbridge Securities said that "we saw Tesla making some crazy moves a little over a month ago. That was peanuts compared with Tilray. It has nothing to do with the long-term outlook on the industry. It’s a purely technical move.”
The closing flourish that added $63 to the share price took just six minutes.
“It left a sea of bodies, both longs and shorts, behind in its wake,” said Dave Lutz, Managing Director at JonesTrading.
And now comes round two.