[Editor’s note: “8 Penny Stocks That Have Fallen From Grace” was previously published in August 2019. It has since been updated to include the most relevant information available.]
A good rule of thumb to follow when investing is that penny stocks usually aren’t good stocks. Most stocks don’t IPO at prices below $10. So if a stock is trading below $10 or below $5, it means investors have sold the stock off to those levels, and such big selloffs aren’t typically the result of good fundamentals or good news.
Because of this, when dealing with penny stocks, it is always important to remember that these stocks didn’t begin as penny stocks. They started as regular stocks and fell into penny-stock territory due to poor fundamentals.
That is especially true for the following list of eight penny stocks that have fallen from grace. Once upon a time, each one of these penny stocks was a high flyer that the market thought could be a huge success. Then, reality hit, and none of them ended up being what they were supposed to be. Investors dumped the stocks, and now, each one of these former high flyers trades in penny stock territory.
Are these huge selloffs buying opportunities? Or are they reason to stay away? It depends. For some of these fallen-from-grace penny stocks, the selloffs are overdone. For others, they aren’t.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at these fallen-from-grace penny stocks, and see not only why they fell from grace, but whether or not they can bounce back.
J.C. Penney (JCP)
All-Time High (Year): $80 (2007)
Current Price: $1
Why It’s Dropped: Big box department store J.C. Penney (NYSE:JCP) was once an iconic stalwart of a thriving mall industry. That was back before the 2008 Financial Crisis, and before the onset of mainstream ecommerce.
Then, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) came along, and shopping pivoted into the digital channel. Some traditional retailers kept up with the times. J.C. Penney did not. In-store performance deteriorated, and without any help from a burgeoning digital business (because there was none), financial resources were depleted and JCP stock fell off a cliff.
Can It Bounce Back: JCP stock is unlikely to bounce back, for two simple reasons.
One, the consumer has moved on. Between Amazon, Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY), Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) stores, and more, consumers have all the stores they need to get everything they want. J.C. Penney is no longer a necessary retail destination for consumers.
Two, the company is running up huge losses against the backdrop of a debt burdened balance sheet that renders the company both unable to innovate and invest, and unable to use time to its advantage. As such, the most likely path forward for JCP stock is lower.
All-Time High: $25 (2011 and 2012)
Current Price: $2.96
Then, the commerce world changed, as retail behemoths like Amazon, Walmart, and Target made low prices the norm (thereby somewhat eroding the need for discounts). At the same time, Groupon’s growth started to flatten out, and profitability remained a huge question mark.
These growth and profitability struggles have persisted for the past several years, and as they have, GRPN stock has dropped in a big way.
Can It Bounce Back: In the long run, GRPN stock can bounce back, mostly because the company has the ability to execute an impressive turnaround through focusing on discounts for experiences (not discounts for products), and through emphasizing local sales (so as to avoid competition with the likes of Amazon, Walmart, and Target).
But this turnaround is progressing at a snail’s pace. Thus, while I have faith that GRPN stock can and will bounce back from these under-$5 levels, it will take time.
Pier 1 (PIR)
All-Time High: $500 (2013)
Current Price: $8.06
Why It’s Dropped: Home furnishings retailer Pier 1 (NYSE:PIR) was once considered one of the premier retailing destinations in a thriving physical home-goods market that was largely exempt from the e-commerce onslaught, mostly because the furniture was supposedly the type of stuff consumers wanted to touch and feel.
As it turns out, though, that’s not true. The ecommerce trend has penetrated into the furniture market over the past several years, and as it has, sales and customers have flowed out of Pier 1 and into platforms like Wayfair (NYSE:W). Pier 1’s margins and profits have consequently contracted, and PIR stock has plummeted.
Can It Bounce Back: PIR stock can and should bounce back, but the current trends underlying the company are so negative (huge revenue drops and big margin erosion, neither of which are slowing) that betting on a PIR stock turnaround here simply seems too risky.
If those trends do start to stabilize, this stock can and will bounce back in a big way. But until then, the best place to hang out is on the sidelines.
Blue Apron (APRN)
All-Time High: $150 (2017)
Current Price: $7.49
Why It’s Dropped: At the time of its IPO in 2017, Blue Apron (NASDAQ:APRN) was being heralded by some as a next-generation meal kit platform that was going to change the way consumers did their grocery shopping.
But old habits are hard to break, and how consumers do their grocery shopping is one of the oldest habits in the book.
As such, Blue Apron’s growth trajectory since its IPO has dropped into negative territory, while profitability has remained elusive. This combination of slowing growth and rising losses has driven APRN stock substantially lower.
Can It Bounce Back: APRN stock will likely keep falling for the foreseeable future. Meal kit market trends remain sluggish while competition is only increasing. Thus, Blue Apron is potentially looking at a shrinking market share in an increasingly competitive and slowing growth meal kit market.
That combination implies that revenue, margin and profitability struggles will persist for the foreseeable future. As they do, APRN stock’s struggles will persist, too.
Rite Aid (RAD)
All Time High: $1,000 (1999)
Current Price: $8.92
Why It’s Dropped: The story at Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) is very similar to the story at J.C. Penney. Broadly speaking, both mall retail and pharmacy have been uprooted by secular changes in consumption and flooded with tons of competition.
Much like J.C. Penney, Rite Aid has struggled to keep up with these changes, and has lost market share to competitors. The result has been persistent drops in revenue, margins, and profits, against the backdrop of a debt-heavy balance sheet.
That combination has ultimately scared investors away in droves, and RAD stock has come crashing down over the past several years.
Can It Bounce Back: Also much like JCP stock, RAD stock is unlikely to bounce back very soon. Its recent partnership with Amazon could very well be a game-changer, but I wouldn’t bet on that right now.
Even if Amazon brings more traffic to the stores, the in-store experience still is designed for older, less-well-off shoppers.
All Time High: $60 (2007)
Current Price: $5.94
Why It’s Dropped: Before the 2008 Financial Crisis, video games were bought in stores, and the go-to place to buy video games was GameStop (NYSE:GME). But over the past decade, video games have shifted from being bought in store, to being downloaded through the cloud.
This shift has made GameStop an increasingly irrelevant retail destination for gamers. GameStop’s sales, margins and profits have consequently been hit hard, and GME stock has dropped.
Can It Bounce Back: At this point in time, a bounce-back rally in GME stock is unlikely. The cloud gaming shift is only accelerating and gaining momentum, as multiple next-gen cloud gaming platforms are expected to launch in late 2019 and early 2020.
These new platforms will make GameStop only more irrelevant than ever before. Sales, margins and profits will continue to drop. So will GME stock.
All Time High: $100 (2014)
Current Price: $3.61
Why It’s Dropped: Shortly after its 2014 IPO, GoPro (NYSE:GPRO) stock went hyperbolic as Wall Street fell in love with this company’s potential as a next-generation media giant.
The idea was that GoPro’s action cameras were creating a new form of media content, from which the company could create a content-rich streaming platform, like the YouTube of action sports. That never happened. Instead, it turns out that the action sports market is pretty niche, and there really isn’t much potential on the content side here.
As such, over the past several years, reality has sunk in that GoPro is just a camera hardware maker for a niche action sports market. As that reality has sunk in, GPRO stock has crashed.
Can It Bounce Back: GPRO stock won’t bounce back from here. But it also won’t fall much further. Instead, GPRO stock seems fairly valued today considering its reality as a stable but limited growth and low margin hardware maker in a niche market.
Further downside seems limited by the fact that the valuation is depressed and growth trends are stabilizing. Further upside seems limited by the fact that growth rates and margins will remain relatively muted for the foreseeable future.
As such, GPRO stock projects to stay stuck in the mid to high single-digit range for the next few quarters.
All Time High: $50 (2015)
Current Price: $3.86
Why It’s Dropped: Much like GoPro, Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) was hyped up around its IPO as a next-generation hardware company with both huge hardware and software growth potential in the long run.
Also much like GoPro, though, Fitbit never lived up to that hype. Instead, Fitbit’s hardware growth trajectory fell flat, as competitors innovated more quickly than Fitbit and stole market share, and its growth never really materialized.
This end-to-end growth erosion, coupled with continued weak margin and profit trends, has caused FIT stock to plummet over the past several years.
Can It Bounce Back: A rebound in FIT stock seems unlikely at this point in time. There was hope that new smartwatch products would catalyze a rebound in its declining sales, but that tailwind has already largely come and gone and didn’t leave much of a lasting positive impact.
At the same time, FIT stock seems fairly valued considering its reality as a niche consumer tech hardware maker. Going forward, there is upside potential on the data side of things, but that upside potential lacks clarity.
All in all, then, the growth narrative here still remains more negative than positive, and that dynamic will ultimately prohibit FIT stock from staging a big turnaround.
As of this writing, Luke Lango was long AMZN, WMT, TGT, and SHOP.