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Bruised but unbowed, meme stock investors are back for more

NEW YORK — After feeling the thrill of victory early this year by singlehandedly causing GameStop’s stock to soar — only to get crushed when it quickly crashed back to earth — armies of smaller-pocketed and novice investors are back for more.

These undaunted investors have resuscitated GameStop shares back above $300, up from $40 in February after plunging from a peak of $347. They’re also hauling new stocks onto the bandwagon they say is heading for the moon, including the lesser-known health insurance company Clover Health Investments.

This second wave of leaps for meme stocks are just as staggering — the movie theater chain AMC Entertainment soared to $62 last week from $2 early this year — and once again professional Wall Street is calling the gains illogical. Many of these professionals had predicted the phenomenon of regular, small-fry investors piling into a stock en masse and sending it incredibly higher would fizzle out, particularly after they felt the pain of losing some money.

Instead, the frenzy has endured and shows how powerful these investors remain, at least for now. They’re armed with social media where they can convince others to champion the same stocks. They also have zero-fee trading apps that allow many to buy stock options, which can offer bigger gains at a smaller upfront cost than buying a share of stock, in exchange for potentially bigger percentage losses.

“They’ll do surprising things if given the tools,” said Hossein Azari, CEO of cmorq, a company that helps customers get into cryptocurrencies and advocates for a new world of “decentralized finance.”

Azari sees it all stemming from people feeling left out as they watched wealthy investors and firms suck up the majority of the economy’s gains in recent years. Now they see a way to get some for themselves.

“They are not out there trying to prove anything,” he said. “They just want to kind of materialize the American dream for themselves.”

Some of the meme-stock buyers believe fervently in the financial futures of the companies they’re backing. Others say on social media posts that they’re merely looking to cash in on whatever the next hot stock is. Most say that as long as other like-minded investors stick together and hold the stock, they’ll protect each other and the stock’s price.

Malcolm Ethridge, a financial adviser with CIC Wealth outside Washington, D.C., said a range of his clients want to talk about meme stocks, as well as cryptocurrencies.

The buying activity this time around also seems less fervent.

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