Shares of WageWorks (NYSE: WAGE) surged more than 30% at the market open on March 14, and as of 12:39 p.m. EDT are still up almost 31% following a pre-market press release announcing that management would hold a call with investors on March 18 to "discuss the company's recent financial results and outlook."
It's pretty rare for a stock to pop on such a routine announcement, but there was a little bit more that drove investors to buy shares today. From the release (which was also filed with the SEC): "The company expects to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) a majority of its delayed quarterly and annual reports before Tuesday evening, March 19, 2019. As a result, the company expects that its common stock will continue to be listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)."
The backstory: WageWorks has been a bit of a disaster over the past year. Between accounting issues that have put multiple years' financial results in question, led to the ouster of top executives, and massive delays in filing quarterly results with the SEC, shares of the benefits administrator have been beaten down for much of the past year. While shares did rally a bit over the summer of 2018, they fell sharply later in the year and were down more than half from the peak prior to today's big jump:
Needless to say, today's announcement that the company was -- finally -- getting closer to the finish line on reporting its financial results has the market exuberant today.
Frankly, whatever investors decide to do with WageWorks right now is heavily built on speculation. The company hasn't filed a 10-Q with the SEC in well over a year at this point, and that means there's a substantial amount of risk baked into buying shares after a 31% boost in the stock price. Furthermore, it's very likely that today's big price hike was the product of short-sellers closing their positions following the announcement. Short interest has risen markedly over the past few months:
To put it another way, the sharp increase in short-selling over the last six weeks or so very likely means that a lot of today's buying wasn't because bullish investors were going long but that short-sellers were getting out.
My best advice to anyone following WageWorks now is to sit on their hands and wait to actually see the company's financial results before forming an investment decision.
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