AHT CEO Rob Hays Thanks Retail Traders, Gives Shoutouts Live On CNBC

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One of the hottest stocks for retail traders was featured with a CNBC interview Thursday when the CEO of a publicly-traded company thanked Twitter and several prominent traders for helping the company stave off bankruptcy.

What Happened: Ashford Hospitality Trust, Inc. (NYSE:AHT) was on the verge of bankruptcy until retail traders found the stock and took shares on a 119% run over the last month.

“It’s changed the game,” Ashford Hospitality Trust CEO Rob Hays told CNBC.

Having a higher share price and being able to sell shares has been “largely due to the participation of retail shareholders” Hays added.

It was pointed out to Hays that the company has $4 billion in debt as he was asked whether new investors understand the financial outlook.

“They’re more sophisticated than people give them credit for.”

Hays praised the enthusiasm retail investors have and how they created it for shares of the stock. Hays couldn’t pinpoint a reason why retail investors found his company.

“They choose you, you don’t choose them.”

The move by AHT was unique as it came more from traders with large followings on Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) as opposed to some stocks like GameStop Corp (NYSE:GME) and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (NYSE:AMC) that were circulated on the Reddit subreddit WallStreetBets.

“Guys like Zack Morris and Will Meade and others” found AHT and helped bring interest into the company, Hays added.

Related Link: AMC Entertainment CEO Takes To Social Media To Connect With New Found Backers, The Retail Investors 

Why It’s Important: Hays told CNBC the investor mix of the company has shifted to a larger base of retail traders.

That has led to Hays joining Twitter and interacting with investors, answering questions along the way. Hays said you can choose to embrace it or “you become a silent CEO and we’ll see what happens.”

Twitter is not Hays preferred method but “it’s what in the best interest for shareholders.”

Hays even joined in by retweeting pictures of hotels Twitter users had stayed at that are part of the Ashford portfolio.

Other publicly-traded companies that have seen large retail trader rallies have also thanked investors, including GameStop Chairman Ryan Cohen and AMC CEO Adam Aron.

What’s Next: Ashford owns a portfolio of hotels under brands such as Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott.

“This summer is going to be very strong,” Hays said.

The big question for Ashford and other hotel companies could be the after Labor Day figures, Hays said. The CEO questions if business travel and big group travel will rise after Labor Day.

The CEO notes 2023 as the year he thinks the hospitality recovery hits 2019 levels.

AHT Price Action: Shares of AHT are up 1.04% to $6.35 on Friday at publication.

Shares have risen 119% in the last month. Shares remain down 59% over the last year and down 88% in the last five years with shares trading over $75 back in 2018.

(Photo: John Schnobrich via Unsplash)