On the front-facing side of things, you might not find a better no-brainer (albeit highly speculative) narrative than Zomedica (NYSEAMERICAN:ZOM), the veterinary care specialist focusing on diagnostics platforms. Previously driven by intense meme pressure, ZOM stock found itself providing blistering returns before it all went sour.
Unlike other meme trades that made folks scratch their heads, Zomedica at least commanded a credible bullish theory. As YPulse.com pointed out one year ago, 76% of millennials are pet owners (or pet parents to use the common lexicon). Amid this demographic, more than half reported they have dogs and 35% stated they have cats. So, just on a numbers basis, ZOM stock looks promising.
Another encouraging factor? YPulse reports that millennials represent the largest living generation. Also, considering that they’re also the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, just do the simple deductive exercise. Millennials are making money, with many in or entering their prime earning years. Combined with their youth, ZOM stock potentially has a long pathway of profitability.
So, why has Zomedica been so disappointing over the last six months? During this period, ZOM stock shed nearly 70%, which is disastrous no matter how you look at it. InvestorPlace contributor Muslim Farooque clearly picked up on the crimson tone of Zomedica shares, blaming the underlying company’s “poor financial performance.”
Specifically, Farooque warned about supply-side troubles, noting that “CEO Robert Cohen highlighted the troubles in ramping up the commercial launch of Truforma in the second-quarter update.” Furthermore, my colleague explained that Cohen “associated the supply-side weaknesses with its partners. Its distribution partner, Miller Veterinary Supply was acquired by Patterson Companies recently. The unexpected sale of its key distributor has compelled the company to alter its sales strategy.”
Therefore, while not helpful in the near term, I think there’s a more worrying longer-term headwind to consider.
Economic Forces May Put ZOM Stock in a Bind
Admittedly, any pet-based equity unit is likely to have strong investor enthusiasm because of the powerful millennial catalyst. But what prospective buyers of ZOM stock must be aware of is that such catalysts do not operate in a vacuum and are far from invulnerable to outside pressures.
For instance, YPulse states that “Over two in five 16-34-year-old pet owners say that they think of their pets as their kids, and the same number say that spending more time at home [due to the pandemic] has made them closer with their pet.”
That said, how could anyone be bearish about ZOM stock with that kind of consumer bullishness? Easy. The survey likely bakes in the assumption of normal times ahead once the public health crisis fades. But the real question you should be asking is this: what happens if we never go back to normal?
In 2017, NBC News printed an interesting headline: “One Big Reason Millennials Are Buying Homes? For Their Dogs.” A Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage “found that 33 percent of millennial home buyers’ decision to buy a home was driven chiefly by their dog. Furry friends outranked wedding bells (25 percent cited marriage as their top motivator for buying a home) and kids, too (only 19 percent said birth of a child was their prime incentive).”
On an initial reading, that sounds very lucrative for ZOM stock. But again, researchers conducted this poll in 2017. We’re living in far different circumstances right now.
From the time NBC News published its report to May 2021, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index jumped nearly 32%. Homes are simply not affordable right now, particularly for those pet-loving millennials.
Now, it’s clear that young people are interesting home ownership. If so, something’s got to give.
Cost Cutting Is Where It Hurts
I’m not suggesting that millennials will abandon their pets like many people did during the Great Recession. Then again, when push comes to shove under another economic crisis, you can’t take this scenario completely off the board.
But a more realistic outcome is that millennials will simply start to cut back on their expenses. Veterinary care might be one of those items. In fact, this worrying trend for ZOM stock is panning out according to data from the American Pet Products Association.
“Of the four segments that the APPA covers, vet care and product sales have risen the least in terms of YOY growth,” I wrote in July.
So, even if the meme traders manage to pull another near-term blast for ZOM stock, I’d be careful. Unless you see robust economic times ahead, the surrounding pieces for Zomedica are not aligning favorably.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto 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.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.