Chewy, GameStop, Bed Bath & Beyond: How Have Ryan Cohen's E-Commerce Bets Performed?

Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc BBBY were surging Monday on the heels of news that Ryan Cohen took a stake in the company and is pushing for changes. Here’s a look at how Cohen’s biggest e-commerce bets have fared.

What Happened: It was announced over the weekend that Cohen holds a 9.8% stake in retailer Bed Bath & Beyond. Cohen and his investment firm RC Ventures are a top five shareholder in the company.

A letter sent to the Bed Bath & Beyond Board of Directors was viewed by The Wall Street Journal and is said to call for a push to streamline the company’s strategy and consider strategic alternatives like spinning off or selling the company’s Buybuy Baby brand.

The letter from Cohen comes as Bed Bath & Beyond laid out a turnaround plan that included reducing the number of items in stores and the launch of private label brands.

Cohen said that the spinoff of Buybuy Baby could be worth several billon dollars.

In the letter, Cohen said he is not in a position to join the board of Bed Bath & Beyond given his focus on GameStop Corp GME. Cohen could nominate candidates for the board, with a nomination window open now and closing in mid-March.

The retailer issued a statement Monday morning about Cohen’s letter.

“Bed Bath & Beyond’s Board and management team maintain a consistent dialogue with our shareholders and, while we have had no prior contact with RC Ventures, we will carefully review their letter and hope to engage constructively around the ideas they have put forth,” the company said.

Related Link: If You Invested $1,000 In GameStop Stock When Ryan Cohen's Stake Was Announced, Here's How Much You'd Have Now 

Why It’s Important: Cohen is an e-commerce legend for many investors. Cohen is the founder and former CEO of Chewy CHWY, a company that redefined the e-commerce model for pet food and accessories.

Chewy was founded by Cohen and Michael Day with their own cash and some loans.

Cohen said the company was going head-to-head against Inc AMZN and The company excelled by focusing on execution instead of product and categories.

Chewy took on Amazon by providing handwritten holiday cards, sketches of their pets and even flowers when their animals passed away. The company also put a huge focus on customer service, with a 24-hour line promising to answer calls within six seconds.

“It’s a simple model that can be replicated in every industry,” Cohen said in an Inc interview. “I don’t know too many businesses that ended up not being successful when they did a really good job at delighting their customers.”

Chewy went on to secure a $15-million Series A in 2013 and over $450 million in funding before it was acquired. Chewy was acquired by PetSmart in 2017 for $3.4 billion, marking it the largest e-commerce acquisition at the time.

Chewy now has a market capitalization of nearly $19 billion, marking a huge gain for investors prior to its 2019 IPO and showing the value Cohen created from concept to buyout to IPO.

Cohen is the chairman of GameStop Corp and one of the company’s largest shareholders. Since taking his stake, Cohen has been vocal about closing underperforming stores and moving the company into more e-commerce growth initiatives.

Cohen’s RC Ventures took a 9% stake in GameStop in 2020, a move that was announced on Aug. 31, 2020. Cohen also added later in 2020 to the position, giving him a 13% share of the company with an average cost of $8.40.

GameStop became a huge storyline in 2021 with a battle of retail investors versus hedge funds and an epic short squeeze. Outside of this storyline were the growing e-commerce sales for the video game retailer and a turnaround story of closing underperforming stores and boosting GameStop’s financials.

Shares of GameStop traded over $400 in early 2021 and trade for $105.71 today. Cohen and anyone who bet on GameStop in late 2020 and early 2021 as a turnaround story and an e-commerce growth story have been positively rewarded.

Benzinga’s Take: Cohen’s experience in e-commerce and activist pushes have yielded strong returns for investors.

Bed Bath & Beyond saw shares get a boost in November when the company announced it was raising the amount of its share buybacks to $1 billion. The company also announced a partnership with The Kroger Co KR and the launch of a new digital marketplace.

The company could be a turnaround story if it can adopt Cohen’s plan and also use the best of its existing multiyear plan to create shareholder value. A combination of share buybacks, spinoffs and streamlined e-commerce focus could be a winning combination.

BBBY Price Action: Bed Bath & Beyond shares are up 38.38% to $22.39 Monday morning. Shares were up over 100% in premarket trading.

Photo by Anthony92931 via Wikimedia

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