(Bloomberg) — Wirecard AG, one of Europe’s largest fintech firms as recently as two weeks ago, collapsed in an accounting scandal that’s pushed the company to file for insolvency. So why is it the best performer in Germany’s benchmark DAX Index this week?
On Friday the stock was down 99% for the year. In the two trading sessions since Friday’s low, shares in the scandal-ridden payments provider have risen more than fourfold, with more than 36 million shares changing hands in each session — more than 10 times the past year’s average. It’s an echo of the bizarre trading this month in shares of U.S. rental-car company Hertz Global Holdings Inc.: An equity that’s almost sure to be worthless captures the imagination of individual investors, despite the warnings of professionals.
The bounce in the battered stock is being driven by speculators rather “than any fundamentals whatsoever,” Berlin-based insolvency specialist Volker Beissenhirtz commented. “It reminds me of Hertz, which took a similar turn until the last moron realizes that there will be no equity left after insolvency.”
A Wirecard spokeswoman declined to comment on this week’s share move.
To be sure, some day traders probably made money by taking advantage of the greater fool theory, buying during Monday’s 154% surge or Tuesday’s gain of as much as 182% and then cashing in. Longer-term prospects for the shares aren’t so good.
Even if Wirecard manages to sell some of its assets, shareholders’ chances of receiving any proceeds after liquidation are “very low,” Nord/LB analyst Wolfgang Donie said by phone. Since the company’s bombshell admission of missing billions on June 18, Donie has been one of only three analysts followed by Bloomberg who maintained an active rating and 12-month price target, currently at 1 euro per share. The other two, Independent Research and Oddo BHF, set price targets of 1 euro and 35 euros, respectively.
How bad are things at Wirecard? Employees in Germany haven’t yet received their June paychecks as the company’s collapse hits staff, people familiar with the matter said.
While the insolvency of a DAX member is novel and dramatic, Wirecard’s listing on the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange remains intact. For the exchange to delist a stock, its issuer would need to fail repeatedly to present annual results. So far, Wirecard only failed to present its 2019 results. If irregularities are found in past annual reports, that would not constitute a repeat offense.
As a result, it’s unlikely Deutsche Boerse will have grounds to delist or demote Wirecard unless it also fails to report fiscal 2020 results when they become due in 2021.
(Adds explanation of listing status, company declining to comment.)
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