As e-commerce grows increasingly competitive, CNBC’s Jim Cramer revisited Wayfair, one of the space’s most hotly contested stocks, to see how it was faring on Wall Street.
“It seems like every time some analyst comes out with a positive piece of research on Wayfair, someone else comes back with a bearish retort,” the “Mad Money” host said.
The online furniture retailer also has one of the most heavily shorted stocks in the market, with roughly 28 percent of its outstanding shares in the hands of short-sellers.
Since Wayfair went public in 2014, the stock has been fairly volatile, getting taken down after a big move up in 2015 and trading narrowly for the following 18 months. But in 2017, shares have taken off, gaining 80 percent since the end of March.
The bears are still hot on Wayfair’s tail, though. Citron Research, Andrew Left’s short-selling firm, came out with a negative note on the stock last week that pushed the stock down from $83 to the low $70s.
Wayfair’s weakness is fairly nuanced, though. The company’s latest quarter beat earnings estimates on the top and bottom lines and management delivered bullish commentary and guidance on the conference call.
Cramer did catch one “fly in the ointment” that could have emboldened the bears: a comment from management that Wayfair would increase investments in advertising and hire more people.
“You guessed it: Wayfair’s using the Amazon template, spending a fortune in order to grow in the hopes of taking over the furniture world,” Cramer said.
Wayfair’s last several quarters brought on bullish coverage from the likes of Bank of America, Oppenheimer, August Wolfe Research and Stifel. Analysts liked Wayfair the company for its accelerating revenue growth, expanding margins and path to profitability.
But bears, particularly Citron, worry that Amazon will encroach on Wayfair’s turf with its own furniture retail initiatives. Left, Citron’s founder, criticized Wayfair’s cash flow for being “an illusion” and said the stock’s fate will mirror that of the retail stocks after Amazon bought Whole Foods.
The outspoken short-seller finally hit a nerve with investors when he tweeted out an academic piece by professors at Emory University and the University of Pennsylvania that compared how much Wayfair spends on attracting customers with how much those customers end up spending.
While Cramer said he would take any academic paper with a grain of salt, it certainly shook investors, sending the stock down over $10 as of Wednesday’s close.
“So where do I come out? The bottom line is that Wayfair’s doing better. Its stock deserved to roar higher at one point, but here I think the shorts are getting a little shrill. But they make some sense,” Cramer said. “No matter. It’s a battleground stock. I loathe battlegrounds. … I wouldn’t go short or long this thing. I just think the whole thing is just too dangerous to play in.”