As a critical mass of risk-hungry traders now believe “the coast is clear,” now may be the perfect time to consider which meme stocks to short. What do I mean by “the coast is clear?”
With the rise in expectations about the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates starting next year, investors are shifting back to a “risk on” mindset. As a result, many popular meme plays have come back into fashion in recent months.
The worst may be over in terms of inflation and interest rates, but that doesn’t guarantee a return to the speculative frenzy of 2021 in 2024, especially if the Fed doesn’t cut rates. We can say the same about forecasts calling for a “soft landing” at worst for the U.S. economy next year.
With this in mind, it’s very possible that high uncertainty, high volatility, and high levels of fear could again return to the markets, hitting meme stocks, including these seven, especially hard. Going against the grain with these names may be a worthwhile wager.
Beyond Meat (BYND)
Even before the meme stock era, Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) found popularity with speculative retail traders. Mainly, because of the company’s perceived potential to capitalize on the rising popularity of plant-based diets.
But after making some big moves well before and at the peak of “meme stock mania,” shares have cratered in price because of poor operating performance. As a result, BYND stock, which less than three year traded for nearly $200 per share, now changes hands for around $8.80 per share.
However, over the past month, shares have surged by just under 35% because of the shift back to a “risk on” mindset. Yet while there’s potential for a BYND squeeze (44.1% of outstanding float has been sold short), analyst forecasts calling for minimal revenue growth and further high losses strongly suggest that, once again, poor fundamentals will dampen enthusiasm for this stock.
It’s an understatement to say that 2023 wasn’t the year to make Carvana (NYSE:CVNA) one of the meme stocks to short. At the start of the year, it seemed as if this online automotive retailer was ready for the junkyard.
Yet thanks to a mix of company turnaround efforts, along with improved sentiment about the health of the used auto market, CVNA has rallied by over 1000%. With the short side getting squeezed out of billions betting against Carvana, it makes sense why you may be hesitant to make such a bearish wager for 2024.
Still, with the market now acting as if lower interest rates and a big rebound in used car demand are a given, boosting Carvana’s fiscal results, shares may now be “priced for perfection.” Falling short of “said perfection” could mean profits for those daring enough to fade this meme stock.
Investors in GameStop (NYSE:GME) have more or less broken even with the stock year-to-date, but shares in the video game retailer have rallied as of late, thanks to the aforementioned “risk-on” shift.
So, if market conditions are seemingly becoming more favorable for GME stock, why short it? Interest rate uncertainty and other factors indicate inevitable price drops for this former “meme king.”
This wouldn’t be a problem if GameStop was on its way towards high revenue and profitability growth. The company plans to transition into an investment holding company, causing the stock to potentially drop to the tangible book value.
Despite positive macro news, Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) stock has remained stagnant, making it a prime candidate for shorting. Even at sub-$1 per share prices, more losses may be on the horizon.
Why? Like other struggling EV and renewable energy upstarts, Nikola continues to report big losses. Although Nikola’s has materially increased its backlog, the company remains years away from (possibly) scaling into a large, profitable business.
Due to these losses, management is tapping into a dilutive financing source: proceeds from the sale of newly-issued stock and convertible notes.
As the company continues to depend on capital raises to cover operating losses and fund expansion, chances are NKLA stock will remain in a dilution spiral, similar to other risky EV stocks popular with retail traders, like Mullen Automotive (NASDAQ:MULN).
Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) has attracted increased chatter recently among the meme stock community. A big reason for this is likely the stock’s high short interest. According to MarketWatch, shares in the vaccine developer are one of the most heavily-shorted stocks out there.
Taking a closer look, it’s clear why NVAX stock has become heavily shorted. As my InvestorPlace colleague Faisal Humayun recently argued, the company is burning through cash, as it attempts to make up for underwhelming Covid-19 vaccine sales/earnings by bringing other vaccines to market.
That’s not all. As a Seeking Alpha commentator also recently pointed out, a vaccine order dispute could also lead to a major depletion of Novavax’s cash reserves. Sure, the company has reported lower-than-expected losses lately. Forecasts call for a major narrowing of net losses in 2024. Nevertheless, as major risks loom, you may want to be on the short side of this trade.
Rivian Automotive (RIVN)
Among the meme stocks to short above and below, Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) could be the one most would disagree with it being on this list. After all, among the early-stage EV companies, Rivian appears to be one of the more promising.
RIVN stock is up by more than 36% this year. This is due to well-received quarterly results, increased production guidance, and (more recently), news that bodes well for the future of the company’s electric van business.
Yet even as RIVN has positive news and favorable market conditions on its side, as Louis Navellier and the InvestorPlace Research Staff argued earlier this month, these advantages may not last.
Concerns about the company’s path to profitability could come back into focus. The impact of interest rate cuts next year may also be fully baked into RIVN’s valuation. These and other risks could soon sink RIVN, after its latest surge.
Trading for under $1 per share as recently as early November, WULF stock has since skyrocketed to around $2.50 per share. Yet while higher BTC prices (which, thanks to operating leverage, mean outsized increases in revenue/profitability for miners) help somewhat to justify this rally, speculators have arguably gone overboard with pricing in this news into WULF.
Sell-side earnings forecasts for 2024 call for a big leap toward profitability, but this may hinge heavily on the BTC rally continuing. Although lower interest rates and the possible launch of Bitcoin ETFs point to price trends carrying on, if things fail to play out in line with expectations, Bitcoin could take a big tumble, knocking down WULF and other miners alongside it.
On the date of publication, Thomas Niel held a long position in Bitcoin. He did not hold (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.