With all the turmoil in the market today, you may think the meme stocks trend is completely over-and-done-with. Mostly, because the factors that enabled it in the first place are no longer in play.
For starters, between inflation, interest rates, and the Russia-Ukraine war, the market is in “risk-off” mode. More chancy investments have seen their appeal dampen since late last year. Along with this, as it’s been a year since the U.S. government doled out stimulus checks. A good chunk of this relief, designed to help households make ends meet during the pandemic, instead was used by individual traders to play the market.
But while the phenomenon is nowhere near as popular as it was in 2021, meme stock investing still has a wide following. Check out Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets subreddit, and you’ll see it’s alive and well with conversation. Now, much of the chatter has shifted towards stocks that aren’t really in the meme category. Think popular mega cap stocks like Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) and Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of threads on Reddit discussing the names that are firmly in the meme stocks category. This includes these seven, a combination of meme legends and secondary meme plays:
- AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC)
- Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY)
- Camber Energy (NYSEAMERICAN:CEI)
- Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV)
- Digital World Acquisition (NASDAQ:DWAC)
- GameStop (NYSE:GME)
- Nio (NYSE:NIO)
Meme Stocks: AMC Entertainment (AMC)
Alongside GameStop, AMC Entertainment is in the top meme stock echelon. A meme stock legend, if you will. Shares in the movie theater chain were one of the initial names bid up aggressively by Reddit traders in January 2021. During that time, it went from low single digits to low double digits.
But interestingly enough, it’s more substantial boost in price came in the middle of last year. That’s when meme traders and trend followers piled into it, hoping to cause “the mother of all short squeezes,” or “MOASS.” In the process, sending AMC stock from around $9 per share, to as much as $72.62 per share.
Of course, since then, AMC has given back almost all of its gains from its second meme wave. The aforementioned uncertainties in the market have resulted in this stock’s more fair weather friends to jump ship. The most die-hard of the self-described “apes,” though, are still holding on tight to their positions.
Chatter among these big fans remains high. That’s clear from the multitude of new Reddit threads still being created about it. However, keep in mind that this chatter may not enable it to hold steady at today’s prices (around $14.75 per share). Much less, make a comeback. As the market becomes less favorable for meme traders, expect more of them to exit the stage with AMC stock, sending it back towards its pre-meme price.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY)
Like AMC and GME, BBBY stock rocketed to the moon when the meme stocks trend came to be. However, unlike the two “legends,” the Reddit trader army retreated from the household merchandise retailer much sooner.
In fact, until recently, Bed Bath & Beyond was trading for prices below what it was trading for when the meme craze first took hold. Yet in recent days, this name has become a favorite again. Why? With Chewy (NYSE:CHWY) co-founder and GameStop Chairman Ryan Cohen going activist on it, including urging for a possible sale of the company, there’s now a catalyst to get investors to renew their excitement about the stock.
Granted, it’s unlikely that a strategic or financial buyer is going to make a bid that’s anywhere near the meme highs this stock hit last year. Still, as a private equity firm could extract substantial value out of it (by selling off its Buybuy Baby unit, and improving its profitability), such a buyer could offer a moderate high premium to today’s prices (around $19.73 per share) and still realize a worthwhile return from the deal.
Buying a stock solely on takeover rumors isn’t exactly a surefire strategy for profits. Plenty of these types of plays tank when an offer fails to materialize. Even so, you may want to keep an eye on it. Cohen may be able to push for changes that will help move shares, whether or not it ultimately gets acquired/taken private.
Meme Stocks: Camber Energy (CEI)
Crude oil’s big price spike, a product of the West’s economic sanctions against Russia, has resulted in several low-priced, small capitalization (cap) energy stocks becoming meme plays. In the case of Camber Energy, this is the second time it’s getting a boost from the meme stocks phenomenon.
As you may remember, last August/September, CEI stock went parabolic. Interest in it as a short squeeze play, coupled with hype surrounding its move into clean energy, resulted in shares surging about 10x, from less than 50 cents per share, to as much as $4.85 per share.
This meme run, however, didn’t last long. a scathing “short report” from short-seller Kerrisdale Capital knocked it back to a dollar. Rate hike worries put further pressure on shares. This resulted in Camber Energy winding up back to where it started by February. But with the Russian war helping to drive traders back into it, the stock has surged back to around $1 per share.
That said, it’s debatable whether this latest wave can last. The impact of higher oil prices on CEI stock. may be minimal, The company only indirectly owns oil & gas assets, through its majority stake in Viking Energy Group (OTCMKTS:VKIN). It’s also raised a substantial amount of money in recent months, through preferred stock transactions. The most recent one raised $100 million. These capital raises could end up being highly dilutive for existing shareholders.
Clover Health (CLOV)
Trading for $3 per share, nearly 90% below its all-time high, it may seem like the party’s over for Clover Health. No longer a short squeeze play, many speculators left the scene months ago. Its continued issues with profitability have soured bullishness for it as well.
Yet over on Reddit, it’s still getting a fair amount of attention. Investors more focused on fundamentals may be giving it a second look as well. Namely, due to some promising signs from its latest earnings report. Yes, profitability remains an issue. The Medicare Advantage Plan provider is still facing the issue of paying out more in claims than it takes in as premiums.
However, year-over-year, it was able to bring down its medical cost ratio (MCR) down from 109.3%, to 102.8% last quarter. Management’s defense that its excessive costs were a product of a post-pandemic surge in healthcare usage may be correct, and not merely an excuse.
If it can continue to get its MCR down to profitable levels, and as revenue from premiums continues to soar at a rapid clip? The company could wind up reporting stronger results sooner than currently expected. While this may fail to send CLOV stock back to the moon again, it could spark a partial recovery. This would result in big upside for investors (meme and non-meme alike) scooping it up at its current penny stock price.
Meme Stocks: Digital World Acquisition (DWAC)
Best known as the “Trump SPAC,” Digital World is the special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that’s taking former President Trump’s social media business public. Admittedly, it’s not exactly trending on Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets. Conversation on the platform has dropped off considerably from where it was when the deal was first announced last fall.
But while the traditional meme crew isn’t as excited about it, Trump’s legion of supporters may have taken their place, bidding up the stock ahead of the launch of Trump’s social media app, TRUTH social. While mainstream meme stocks are in the red year-to-date, DWAC stock is up 36% so far this year. This is even after its sharp pullback since the start of March.
So, should you “buy the dip,” after its retreat from around $100 per share, down to the $70s per share? It’s questionable. On one hand, DWAC’s implied post-merger valuation is way too high, considering that Trump’s social media venture is in the pre-revenue stage.
On the other hand, much like how AMC and GME have been able to continue trading at inflated valuations, the “Trump trader army” may be able to keep it elevated for longer than expected. That is why many, including my InvestorPlace colleagues David Moadel and Josh Enomoto, have argued you shouldn’t try to short it. Given it’s moving more on investor psychology than fundamentals, it may be best to skip out on it entirely.
At around $96 per share today, GME stock has taken a big dive from its meme high of $483 per share. Yet at the same time, shares in the video game retailer have been somewhat resilient. Like AMC, GME has managed to avoid falling fully back to its pre-meme stock price.
Over on Reddit, there’s still a moderate amount of chatter about GameStop. A good chunk of its longtime fans still believe that another epic short squeeze is possible. This is despite the good chance that short squeeze hopes are delusional, as a Seeking Alpha commentator argued was the case back in February.
Other fans remain bullish that it will find success with its turnaround plan, which includes becoming an e-commerce retailer, and building a marketplace for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In turn, enabling it to restore (at least a bit) of its former glory. Much like with the short squeeze angle, this may be delusional as well.
Not only that, you can argue that the current GME stock price already prices-in upside from its transformation plans. Again, as is the case with AMC, expect its fan base to over time throw in the towel. As this happens, shares will move down to a price more reflective of fundamentals.
Meme Stocks: Nio (NIO)
First off, I agree if you think that calling NIO a meme stock is stretching things a bit. It’s not one in the sense that most of the names discussed above are meme stocks. Even among electric vehicle (EV) stocks, Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID) was arguably more of a meme play than this China-based maker of EVs.
However, while Reddit chatter about Lucid has been reduced to whispers, conversation about NIO stock has picked up again recently. Perhaps, given its big decline in price since early 2021, there’s hope it can make a recovery. Today it trades for $16.20 per share, a fraction of its all-time high. Only making it partially back to its high water mark would produce a high return for those buying it today.
Unfortunately, making such a recovery may not be likely. As I mentioned late last month, slowing growth may make it difficult for it to merely sustain its current stock price. Other factors, like delisting risk and rate hikes, could apply further pressure to NIO stock as well.
The meme crowd may be bottom-fishing here, but they may wind up being disappointed with what they reel in. I wouldn’t view increased talk about it online as a sign that a rebound is in the cards.
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On the date of publication, Thomas Niel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.