Individual Investors Take Aim at Carver Bancorp as Next Short-Squeeze Target

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Individual investors on the hunt for the next stock-market win piled into

Carver Bancorp Inc.,

CARV 106.90%

sending shares of the banking-services company soaring more than 200% on Thursday.

Carver Bancorp’s stock price hit $38.87, its highest intraday level in more than 10 years, as individual investors scooped up shares in hopes of squeezing bearish investors out of the stock. The stock closed Wednesday at $10.58.

New York-based Carver Bancorp is the holding company for Carver Federal Savings Bank, one of the largest African-American-operated banks in the U.S. The stock has experienced a rise in short sellers wagering against it. Short interest in the stock jumped to 68% of the stock’s free float, according to FactSet, making it one of the most shorted stocks by that metric across the New York Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq. Around this time last year, short interest in Carver Bancorp hovered around 15%.

Piling into stocks with high percentages of short interest has become a go-to strategy for individual investors this year after they sent

GameStop Corp.

catapulting higher in January.

Short sellers are investors who bet against a stock by borrowing shares and selling them, hoping to buy them back later at a lower price. But short sellers can be burned by such bets when a stock begins rising, forcing them to buy back shares to limit their losses. That, in turn, can force the stock higher again and again—creating a short squeeze.

In January, short interest in GameStop exceeded 100% of the stock’s free float, prompting a push among individual investors to drive the stock higher and force short sellers to unwind their bearish wagers.

Across social media, individual investors in recent days had noticed Carver Bancorp’s rising short interest, with investors discussing the potential for a short squeeze and subsequent big gains. Chatter continued to heat up this week on sites including Twitter and on Reddit forums including r/Shortsqueeze.

Carver Bancorp traded at $34.77 Thursday afternoon. Trading was halted several times during the day due to the stock’s volatility.

Thursday isn’t the first time that individual investors piled into the stock. Last year, investors looking for ways to support businesses on the Juneteenth holiday sent shares of African-American-operated banks including Carver Bancorp soaring. The company’s stock surged 248% on June 17 of last year.

The GameStop frenzy put the spotlight on a growing group of investors who seek and share trading information on social media platforms like YouTube and TikTok. Three investors explain how these online communities are helping them chase the market. Photo illustration: Adam Falk/The Wall Street Journal

Write to Caitlin McCabe at caitlin.mccabe@wsj.com

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