Chewy stock pops 34% after Roaring Kitty posts a dog picture, then gives it all back

Finance

A photo illustration of the Chewy logo is seen on a smartphone and a PC screen.
Pavlo Gonchar | SOPA Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

Chewy shares surged on Thursday after meme stock leader Roaring Kitty posted a picture on social media platform X that resembles the logo of the online pet food retailer.

Roaring Kitty, whose legal name is Keith Gill, has stirred up trading in speculative names such as GameStop by posting cryptic images and memes online. A picture of a cartoon dog appeared on his X feed Thursday afternoon, briefly driving up Chewy shares as much as 34% to $39.10.

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There’s also a strong connection between meme stock GameStop and Chewy. GameStop CEO Ryan Cohen was the founder and CEO of Chewy, who was instrumental in PetSmart’s takeover of Chewy in 2017 and its subsequent initial public offering in 2019.

Cohen joined the GameStop board of directors along with two other Chewy executives in January 2021, partly helping fuel the initial GameStop rally. He later took over as GameStop CEO in 2023, leading a turnaround in the brick-and-mortar video game retailer.

Shares in pet retailers such as Chewy and Petco saw big spikes during the pandemic when stuck-at-home consumers adopted cats and dogs in droves. With the adoptions came purchases of needed accessories such as new beds and leashes for their furry family members.

But as the pandemic ended and people began venturing outside again, adoption numbers slowed and consumers had less need for discretionary pet items such as toys and cages, which carry higher profit margins than pet food.

Over the past year or so, Chewy and Petco have seen consistently strong pet food sales, but revenue for higher margin categories has fallen.

Gill is a former marketer for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance. He came into the limelight after successfully encouraging retail investors to buy GameStop shares and call options in 2021 to squeeze out short-selling hedge funds. The mania in 2021 led to a series of congressional hearings featuring Gill in brokers’ practices and the “gamification” of retail trading.

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