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GameStop’s New Chairman Ryan Cohen Tells Shareholders to ‘Buckle Up’

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New Chairman Ryan Cohen addressed shareholders directly for the first time during the company’s annual meeting. Still, the Chewy co-founder declined to lay out a detailed plan for a turnaround of the videogame retailer. “We have a lot of work in front of us, and it will take time,” Cohen said, according to a person who attended the meeting. “We’re trying to do something nobody in the retail space has ever done. But we believe we’re putting the right pieces in place, and we have clear goals: delighting customers and driving shareholder value for the long-term.”

Cohen, who became the GameStop board’s chairman on Wednesday, pointed to efforts refreshing the board of directors, adding executives with technology and retail experience, paying off long-term debt, and laying the foundation for long-term growth. “You won’t find us talking a big game, making a bunch of lofty promises, or telegraphing our strategy to the competition,” Cohen added. “That’s the philosophy we adopted at Chewy.” The address was Cohen’s first public comments since GameStop stock turned parabolic amid a broader squeeze in highly shorted stocks, aside from statements in a handful of company news releases and cryptic posts on Twitter. Those remarks have inspired creative theorizing from GameStop’s base of online retail investors. Cohen spoke to the shareholder base directly on Wednesday.

Ryan Cohen

“We continue to be blown away by your passion and support,” Cohen said. “We’re fortunate to have such a special group of investors holding the company’s shares. You inspire us to think bigger, fight harder and work longer each day. You’ve ushered in a whole new era at GameStop.” GameStop stock was up about 2.8% to $308.41 Wednesday afternoon. After the close, the company will report its fiscal first-quarter results. Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter wrote earlier this week that such results would likely mean less for the stock than any insight into the transformation strategy and retail investor enthusiasm.

“As long as retail investors largely remain enthusiastic about GameStop’s prospects. However, the major question marks don’t matter much regarding share price action,” Pachter wrote. While GameStop’s1,684% run-up year-to-date may encourage bets that the price will fall, enough existing short positions on the stock remain to trigger an enormous squeeze, according to Ihor Dusaniwsky, a managing partner at the short-selling analytics firm S3 Partners. As for GameStop’s turnaround, there is a lot of work ahead. The company’ has said it was seeking a new chief executive and finance chief but has yet to say who will take those jobs. “Thank you, everyone, and, as my dad would say, buckle up,” Cohen concluded.

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