Shares in the world’s biggest rubber glove maker jumped as users of a Reddit forum rallied behind the under-pressure group, as the surge in online retail investor activism in the US spread abroad.
Malaysia-based Top Glove’s stock jumped as much as 14 per cent on Friday after Reddit users called on retail investors to buy the shares.
The emergence of online investor activism in the south-east Asian country echoed that in the US. Users of r/WallStreetBets, a Reddit forum of more than 5m, have co-ordinated this week to propel into the stratosphere shares in games retailer GameStop and other companies that were the target of hedge funds’ bearish wagers.
“Our glove companies, with whatever imperfections they have, are our national treasure . . . they are our pride,” wrote __Revenant__, a moderator of the r/BursaBets subreddit, which has signed up almost 7,000 members since it was set up on Thursday.
Shares in Top Glove and other Malaysian glove makers soared throughout much of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic boosted demand for personal protective equipment. But their stock prices have fallen following the successful development of Covid-19 vaccines.
A Top Glove worker died last month after the group was linked to Malaysia’s largest Covid-19 cluster, with more than 5,000 cases.
But users on the r/BursaBets subreddit argued that glove makers had been unfairly targeted by bearish investors, pointing to the companies’ healthy financial performance.
The positivity around Top Glove on Friday also rubbed off on similar companies. Malaysian rubber glove peers Hartalega, Supermax and Kossan rose by as much as 10, 8 and 6 per cent on Friday, respectively.
Top Glove, Kossan and Hartalega were the top three stocks by net short positions as of Wednesday, according to Bursa Malaysia. Short-sellers profit when shares in the company they are targeting fall. “Lets show those big funds what we retailers are made of [sic],” wrote r/BursaBets commenter do0gie91.
The users in r/BursaBets were “taking a swashbuckling view of the markets à la Dave Portnoy”, said Gerald Ambrose, head of Aberdeen Standard Investments Malaysia, referring to the US celebrity trader who has embodied an investor subculture that has railed against Wall Street. “They have been identifying the most shorted stocks and trying to squeeze the shorts.”
Retail investor participation in Malaysia’s equity market has soared as people have been forced to work from home during the pandemic. It has grown from about 18 per cent in February 2020 to just over a third presently, said Mr Ambrose. The jump has helped offset a gradual fall in foreign institutional participation in the equity market, he added.
Syed Zaid Albar, chairman of Malaysia’s Securities Commission, said in October that the country had seen a “considerable increase” in individual investor participation via digital platforms.
“Something big has happened in America, something that shows that the institution and the big money are at our mercy,” wrote __Revenant__ in r/BursaBets. “I believe in that now”.