Shares of Dave & Buster's Entertainment (NASDAQ:PLAY) fell as much as 10% in trading Monday as investors tried to decipher whether the company was recovering or foundering in today's operating environment. Shares were volatile in the first hour of trading and were down 6.1% at 10:40 a.m. EDT.
There wasn't any news today, but Monday's trading follows an extremely volatile few days last week. Shares plunged on Thursday after the company left a "Going Concern" section in its 10-Q filing, a warning sign that the company may be teetering toward bankruptcy. But two analysts upgraded the stock to a buy rating on Friday, causing a sharp recovery in shares.
Today's move has multiple layers to it, the biggest of which may be an overall decline of market indexes, which stands at nearly 3% at this writing. When the market declines, volatile stocks like Dave & Buster's can magnify gains or losses, and today the move is to the downside. If we take a step back further, we can see that shares are really trading near where they were on Thursday after the "going concern" news came to light. And that warning is much more notable for investors than the rating change from Wall Street analysts.
The reality is that Dave & Buster's, like many consumer discretionary stocks, has a long road ahead. The company burned through cash when it had to close operations and has yet to see customers return in the numbers that will keep it growing long term. And given the focus on group entertainment that could take years to recover, it's not clear when the company will be back to normal again, if ever.