What happened

The stocks of companies that could make potential short squeeze candidates continue to be the focus of many retail traders. Today, three speculative names with high short interest are jumping higher. Shares of space tourism company Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE), electric vehicle hopeful Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA), and hydrogen fuel cell maker Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE) all jumped today. As of 3:35 p.m. EDT:

  • Virgin Galactic was up 9.2%
  • Nikola was up 7.7%
  • Bloom Energy was up 4.5%

So what

With its share price trading around $40, it's notable that the July 16, 2021 $100 call options on Virgin Galactic had some of the highest implied volatility of all equity options today, according to Yahoo! Finance. Along with trading volume already more than double the 60-day daily average, this implies traders are hoping shares surge more than 150% to record highs in just the next three weeks. 

Green stock chart with arrow shooting higher.

Image source: Getty Images.

Part of the thinking of traders in Virgin Galactic call options may be that high short interest in the stock could set shares up to move higher. As of late May, 28% of the public share float was sold short. Retail traders likely are hoping for a short squeeze similar to what occurred in other meme stocks. Similarly, Nikola and Bloom Energy had a respective 32% and 12% of their floats sold short, according to data from MarketWatch. 

Now what

Each of these stocks is speculative, and Virgin Galactic and Nikola aren't yet even bringing in revenue. Nothing of note was announced by these companies today to explain the stock movement. Nikola did file a Securities and Exchange Commission statement registering more than 18 million shares for potential sale. But that was related to capital it recently raised through a private deal, and any proceeds from the newly registered shares would be going to the stockholder, and not the company. 

Investors may be interested in Bloom Energy today because of a quarterly financial release from fellow hydrogen fuel cell technology company Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG). That report was a mix of strong sales growth offset by continued net losses from that company. A growing hydrogen economy would be good news for Bloom, and company management expressed optimism in its recently released first quarter report for the period ended March 31, 2021. Revenue growth was also strong, and Bloom Energy CFO Greg Cameron said in a statement, "We are confident in our guidance and are on the way to being a $1 billion revenue business that is well positioned for future growth." 

But today's stock action seems more likely influenced by retail traders looking to turn high short interest into a rising stock price if shorts are forced to cover sold shares. For long-term investors, this type of move isn't critical to an investing thesis -- even for speculative stocks like these.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.