It’s been a wild month for investors in the company formerly known as Torchlight Energy. Torchlight traded as TRCH stock and sought to develop its Hazel property into a major oil play.
However, Hazel didn’t end up striking it rich, and Torchlight looked to exit the oil and gas business. Instead, it has now pivoted.
The company merged with Meta Materials (NASDAQ:MMAT) and it now trades as MMAT stock.
That’s all well and good. But what explained the tremendous trader interest in TRCH stock and now Meta Materials? For one, it was a complicated transaction. In a short period of time, Torchlight was looking to sell its oil and gas properties, offer a dividend to shareholders, reverse split the stock and merge with a different company.
That’s a whole lot of moving parts. This, not surprisingly, attracted a bunch of short-sellers, given Torchlight’s uneven track record as an oil and gas company. And where you have short-sellers, you often find meme traders.
All told, it was a perfect set-up for a Reddit-induced trading squeeze.
Meta Materials and TRCH Stock
Meta Materials intends to popularize so-called metamaterials into the mainstream. The company’s mission is to “go beyond” traditional compounds by developing new structures that don’t exist naturally in nature.
The metamaterial market is virtually non-existent now, but backers hope it can become a multi-billion dollar industry in the coming years.
Meta Materials, the company, is seeking to develop a wide range of applications for its next-generation compounds. These include uses in the health care industry, solar panels, automobiles and 5G technology among others.
Up until now, it all seems fairly conceptual, and that’s reflected in the company’s finances. MMAT generates minimal revenues and runs operating losses.
This is to be expected for a start-up-type company. Still, potential investors should examine the company’s story more closely and come to their own conclusions about the odds that this firm will be able to achieve commercial success.
An Odd Form of Going Public
The thing that should give investors the most pause is how Meta Materials decided to go public. The initial public offering (IPO) market has been strong this year. If the metamaterials space is about to take off, there should have been solid demand for an IPO.
And if that didn’t work, why didn’t Meta Materials find a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) buyer? We’ve had hundreds of SPACs launch in recent years, and they’re desperate to find solid deals in the clean energy and autonomous vehicle spaces.
If Meta Materials has solid technology that will make advances in this arena, you’d think SPACs would have been lining up to buy up Meta Materials. One other interesting point: Meta Materials hails out of Nova Scotia, Canada. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but Nova Scotia is not generally considered a hotbed for promising tech companies.
The very unusual merger of Meta Materials and Torchlight should instead give investors pause. Torchlight had numerous issues as a public company, and short-sellers dogged it repeatedly.
Torchlight was not a promising business, and it is a concerning fact that Meta Materials was happy to go public via merging with Torchlight.
All in all, it’s not hard to see why market participants are saying this deal looks more like a failed short squeeze than the launch of a promising new tech company on the Nasdaq.
Torchlight/Meta Materials Bottom Line
If you bought this company to participate in the TRCH stock short squeeze, it’s probably time to move on. That story played out and the conditions are no longer there to cause a renewed surge in the share price.
Short sellers were nervous to stay involved in TRCH stock ahead of all the catalysts such as the dividend payout, but that’s over now.
Now, TRCH stock — or Meta Materials, more specifically — is a bet on a novel type of technology. It could certainly work in due time, but Meta Materials will have to do a lot more than just have some interesting concepts to support its market capitalization.
On the date of publication, Ian Bezek 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.
Ian Bezek has written more than 1,000 articles for InvestorPlace.com and Seeking Alpha. He also worked as a Junior Analyst for Kerrisdale Capital, a $300 million New York City-based hedge fund. You can reach him on Twitter at @irbezek.