Crazy ride, Jimmy Lai!

August 12, 2020 09:37
Photo: Reuters

Call it a retaliatory rally. Otherwise, how can one explain Next Digital’s 11 times surge in two days after owner and founder Jimmy Lai was arrested?

The embattled media company almost dropped dead after a high-profile arrest of Lai, his two sons, four lieutenants and a network of rebellious youngsters for alleged collusion with foreign forces under the new security law in Hong Kong.

But the stock price of the media group staged a miraculous surge – despite the obvious risk of potential closure – after the bad news went out.

On Monday, Next Digital fell to an all-time low of 7.5 cents at a point before ending the day with a 183 per cent gain as some investors are said to be buying a minimum lot to show support for Lai.

The mad run continued even more yesterday with the stocks reaching as high as HK$1.96, a level not seen in years.

At the end of the day, Next Digital was closed at HK$1.1.

The penny stock rally was not uncommon in Hong Kong, but the kind of two-day surge that put Next Digital investors to heaven from hell and dwarf the sharp one-day gain of Porsche, and recently Hertz and Kodak.

A lot of soul-searching on what drives the rally, given Lai had so many enemies because he irritated the heavyweights in politics and business.

Pro-Beijing or government camp might think United States might be behind the rally because it would give advantage to Lai, if he wants, or is forced to sell out.

Last night, Securities and Future Commission said they were aware of the share rally and have been monitoring the situation. The statement was made just before Lai was on bail just around midnight.

Next Digital share rally also went viral in the social media as several stock commentators talked about how much they gained in support of Lai. They also talked about how they would use the profit to kick back to Lai’s business by buying the physical copies (which the paper was smart to add a print run of 550,000 copies on Tuesday instead of the usual 70,000) with some readers saying they are buying even if it is a blank paper.

All seem to be perfectly orchestrated with a sales campaign to sponsor Apple Daily through various subscription plans, including a HK$10,000 VIP program that aims to capture the HK$10,000 subsidy the government gave out to each resident last month.

Now the security law might be somewhat a blessing in disguise. At least it forced something to happen, as evident in the seemingly individuals-led stock rally. It also reinforced that there will be anything but boring in Apple Daily.


-- Contact us at [email protected]

EJ Insight writer