Bed Bath & Bananas

Let’s see: A big retailing company announces absolutely rotten financial results and says there’s a good chance it will be forced to file for bankruptcy. Then its stock price nearly triples in three days on extraordinarily heavy trading.

Welcome to the wacky world of Bed Bath & Beyond.

Or is that Bed Bath & Bonkers? Maybe Bed Bath & Bizarro? How about Bed Bath & Beats Me?

Whatever the name – and whatever the sentiment – the saga of what was not all that long ago one of the best retailers in America continues to get stranger and stranger. And just when you think it can’t get any weirder, don’t blink because it just did.

You certainly don’t need to hear all the gruesome details again here. Suffice it to say, the retailer is in deep shit and the chances of it getting out of this mess with its hands, balance sheet and psyche clean are between slim and none. It is running out of cash and people who want to lend it some, inventory and vendors who want to supply some and customers who don’t know what to make out of all those empty shelves and odd assortments that remain.

None of which it seems has stopped a certain number of investors – OK, let’s call them what they really are, which is speculators, day traders, meme freaks and Ouija board fanatics – from continuing to buy up its shares and drive the price up to heights that not only defy logic…they downright defy gravity.

From a low of about $1.79 a share at the start of trading last week when the retailer said there was a good chance it would have to file for bankruptcy, BBBY stock went on a ride that would put the Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island to shame. By Thursday afternoon it was approaching $5.60 a share, which even those of us math-challenged can do simple arithmetic and know it’s more than tripled.

By the end of trading last Friday, some of those gains had been given back, no doubt to the smarter – luckier—traders who figured it was time to take their money and run…fast and furiously. It closed at about $3.60 by week’s end and over the weekend before trading was scheduled to resume Tuesday morning following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday closing, it had lost another 30 cents a share.

What happens when it starts trading again Tuesday is anybody’s guess. By that time it’s entirely possible the company will have filed bankruptcy, been bought by private equity madmen from outer space or otherwise entered a parallel retail universe. Hey, it’s not that far off from what’s happened so far.

None of this is to make light of the personal and professional tragedies that are associated with the fall and further fall of Bed Bath. A lot of people will lose a lot of money, their jobs and, in at least one case, their lives during all of this. Tragedy is in fact too mild a word, sadly.

Bananas? Bonkers? Bizarro? Beats Me? When it comes to Bed Bath & Beyond, it’s all of the above.

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