GameStop’s Changes Include Its Digital Transformation Push

GameStop shares dropped during the last quarter after skyrocketing during an earlier trading frenzy but its e-commerce sales rose 175 percent, representing more than a third of its sales in the period. The Texas-based company is pushing its transformation from brick-and-mortar to digital, naming a new operating chief, former Amazon exec Jenna Owens, and promising additional new hires. In addition to less foot traffic due to COVID-19, GameStop is also impacted by the trend towards game subscription services and free-to-play games.

The Wall Street Journal reports that chief executive George Sherman said the company “plans to expand its product offerings in areas such as gaming computers, gaming TVs and mobile gaming, while reducing its dependence on the console-gaming market, as well as improving customer service and warehouse management.”

After shares dropped 10+ percent in after-hours trading, the stock closed Tuesday down 6.6 percent at $181.75. Its Q4 profit “nearly quadrupled from a year earlier to $80.5 million, or $1.19 a share, helped by an income-tax benefit,” while sales dropped 3 percent to $2.12 billion.

The company, which closed hundreds of brick-and-mortar stores last year, saw its stock skyrocket, fueled by WallStreetBets investors, which led to losses among investors who shorted the stock. WSJ notes that support also came from “people who believe that the recent addition of Chewy co-founder Ryan Cohen to the GameStop board could lead to a much-needed business overhaul.”

Two other former Chewy executives joined the board in January, “as part of an agreement that called for at least four current directors to leave the panel later this year.” GameStop also hired its first chief technology officer and a senior vice president of customer care, while the chief customer officer and the finance chief are stepping down. Former Chewy vice president of e-commerce Neda Pacifico will become senior vice president of e-commerce and former Zulily executive Ken Suzuki will become president of supply chain systems.

CNBC reports that, “GameStop also acknowledged in a filing that it was considering selling additional equity shares to fund its transformation.”

“The highly anticipated 4Q20 earnings report from GameStop was a bit anti-climatic,” wrote Telsey Advisory Group analyst Joseph Feldman. “While EPS met the consensus, it was completely driven by a tax benefit that offset much worse than expected operating profit. Moreover, while everyone was expecting big news about some massive digital transformation in the mold of the new tech-oriented board members, nothing was said.”

Sherman did reveal that, “February comparable store sales increased 23 percent, thanks to strength in hardware sales worldwide.” Despite the volatile year in share price GameStop has a market capitalization of almost $13 billion, compared to $245 million a year ago.