It may have been the hottest investing trend of 2021. But as the new year beckons, it’s tough to be bullish on meme stocks. With numerous uncertainties clouding the market, the top names in this category, AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) and GameStop (NYSE:GME), have been trending lower in recent weeks.
The same thing has happened for key secondary plays once popular with retail traders active on platforms like Reddit’s r/WallStreetBets subreddit, such as short-squeeze targets like Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV) and ContextLogic (NASDAQ:WISH). Penny stocks caught up in the meme stocks trend, like Sundial Growers (NASDAQ:SNDL), have given back their respective meme-related gains.
That said, don’t take this to mean all meme plays are “avoid-at-all-cost” situations. Among the scores of stocks once boosted by the trend, there are plenty that could buck the latest trend, and move higher. However, not due to another wave of meme mania. Instead, due to their own respective catalysts.
Although the meme stocks phenomenon is sagging in popularity, these seven current and/or former Reddit favorites could make another “to the moon” move or two in 2022:
- Bakkt Holdings (NYSE:BKKT)
- Cleveland-Cliffs (NYSE:CLF)
- Nokia (NYSE:NOK)
- PubMatic (NASDAQ:PUBM)
- Cassava Sciences (NASDAQ:SAVA)
- Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE)
- Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY)
Meme Stocks: Bakkt Holdings (BKKT)
A financial services firm with a crypto focus, Bakkt Holdings went public in October, via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger. But it was two key developments not too long after that that sent its shares rocketing from just under its SPAC offering price ($10 per share), to as much as $50.80 per share.
First, a partnership deal with Mastercard (NYSE:MA), gives it access to the payment giant’s global network. Second is another partnership deal, this one with Fiserv (NASDAQ:FISV). Both relationships could help expand the number of individuals, merchants, and financial institutions that use Bakkt’s platform.
However, since this surge in price, BKKT stock below where it started. Chalk it up to the volatility seen lately in the markets. Adding to it, anticipated high insider selling. Even so, while it’s gone from $10 to $50, and back to $10 and below, now may be a great time to initiate a position.
In the months ahead, subsequent developments could help it to bounce back, including updates on its user base expansion efforts. New partnerships, such as the one announced recently with Manasquan Bank, could also enable Bakkt Holdings to move in the right direction once again. If you’re bullish crypto will make a comeback next year, consider this stock another way to play it.
During 2021, CLF stock rose around 39%. Primarily due to the pandemic recovery, but the meme stocks trend did play a minor role in its strong performance. Yet while it’s delivered an outsized return this year, “old school” iron ore and steel player Cleveland-Cliffs continues to trade as if its earnings are about to fall off a cliff (pun intended).
Admittedly, Cleveland-Cliffs is expected to see its earnings dip in 2022. Analyst consensus calls for earnings per share (EPS) of $5.82, versus an estimated EPS of $6.04 for 2021. However, trading for around 3.5x full-year 2022 earnings estimates, does a low single-digit dip in earnings justify giving the company a low single-digit earnings multiple?
Not so fast. As I discussed back in October, prospects look bright in terms of steel demand in 2022. Namely, assuming that the global chip shortage gets resolved, and auto production gets back to normal, boosted demand for steel stemming from the bi-partisan infrastructure bill could also enable it to deliver solid results over the next few quarters.
Given its cyclical nature, chances are CLF stock will continue to sport a single-digit price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio. Even so, as a move from a 3.5x to 7x would still result in a 100% gain for shares, the risk/reward proposition with this situation looks tilted in your favor.
Meme Stocks: Nokia (NOK)
In early 2021, Nokia became one of the secondary meme stocks. This may have been due to its low stock price, or perhaps due to familiarity with its brand. Yet its gradual move to over $6 per share, after crashing following the first round of meme mania? That wasn’t due to speculative frenzy. Instead, the telecom equipment maker’s bounce back toward near its 52-week highs was due to improving fundamentals.
Before 2021, it was a bit of an “also ran” when it came to locking down 5G deals with telecom companies. But throughout the year, it’s had more success tapping into this demand. This, coupled with success with its turnaround efforts, points to a promising future for the company.
As a result, NOK stock is up more than 58% year-to-date. However, I wouldn’t see this as a warning that after a strong year stock performance-wise, more muted gains lie ahead. Continued 5G success, plus a possible end to the chip shortage, are just two factors that could help propel the stock, reasonably priced at 15.1x earnings, to much higher levels in the coming year.
While no longer much of a meme favorite, it doesn’t need association with this fading trend anymore. As it keeps on proving its skeptics wrong, expect things to continue to look up for Nokia and Nokia stock.
Back in the summer, PUBM stock looked like a possible short-squeeze play. With short interest at the time above 30% of float, it wasn’t out of the question that a stampede of Reddit buyers could have sent PubMatic stock “to the moon,” as what happened with Clover Health at the time.
Of course, shares in the digital advertising company failed to have such an epic squeeze. Instead, PubMatic shares have traded sideways. The shorts have covered their positions, and the meme crowd has left the scene as well. So, if it’s no longer a meme play/short-squeeze play, what’s the appeal?
Namely, valuation. As a Seeking Alpha contributor recently put it, PUBM is one of the few reasonably priced Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) stocks. This comes despite its success overcoming high competition from larger rivals like Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) The Trade Desk (NASDAQ:TTD). Along with that, consider its strong chance of experiencing continued high revenue growth (30-40%) over the next few years.
I will admit there may be a caveat to buying PubMatic. Too much of the bull case hinges on its relatively lower valuation. If SaaS stock multiples keep compressing, its seemingly cheap valuation may not seem so cheap down the road. But if you’re looking for a more than reasonably priced growth play, and believe that multiple compression from rising interest rates won’t be severe, consider this former meme stock a buy.
Meme Stocks: Cassava Sciences (SAVA)
Until August, Cassava Sciences was one of the top meme stocks, zooming higher thanks to the potential of its Simulfilam Alzheimers drug candidate. However, not too long after that, shares experienced a big decline, due to data manipulation allegations.
SAVA stock has attempted to bounce back a few times since then. But so far, it’s failed to get back to past price levels (well above $100 per share, versus around $44.75 per share today). Still, despite its rebound struggles, this high-risk, high-possible return biotech remains a story stock worth keeping an eye on.
As InvestorPlace’s Louis Navellier argued in early December, there’s tremendous upside with this stock, if Simulfilam gets through the allegations, and makes its way through the FDA approval pipeline. With yet another academic journal saying it can’t find evidence of data manipulation, there’s now even more credence to CEO Remi Barbier’s claims that this key controversy is the product of a “short-and-distort” campaign from short sellers.
Of course, like with any clinical-stage biotech play, be careful. Even if the data allegation brouhaha finally goes away, SAVA stock will likely experience another massive drop, if the FDA rejects Simulfilam for FDA approval. Nevertheless, with the big potential for it to bounce back in 2022, keep an eye on it.
Virgin Galactic (SPCE)
Put simply, the meme stocks trend was like rocket fuel for SPCE stock in early 2021. With its high concept business plan (space exploration), it’s no shock Reddit traders sent Virgin Galactic from the low $20s per share, to the low $60s per share, last January and February.
Yet while it did join in on the fun during the short squeeze-centric second meme stock wave, after first plunging due to the spring SPAC wipeout, it’s been tough for Virgin Galactic investors since then. This is due to several factors, including selling by insiders like Chamath Palihapitiya, and delays in its commencement of commercial flights.
The near-term could remain tough for Virgin. The drop in enthusiasm for speculative growth stocks could continue, due to concerns about a more hawkish Fed. With this, you may not want to buy SPCE stock right away. However, you may want to buy it, if it’s still at depressed prices a few months from now.
It’s going to take years for Virgin Galactic to experience its true “lift off” moment. But between now and then, shares could make another bolt to the skies. Progress with its business could convince investors to warm back up to it.
Meme Stocks: Tilray (TLRY)
Despite blue wave election results, U.S. pot legalization failed to happen in 2021. The chances of federal pot reforms still appear questionable for 2022 too. With this, plus a recent report from Barclays arguing that there’s not much upside for Canadian cannabis companies from U.S. pot reform, Tilray stock has continued to draft lower.
This comes atop the big declines it endured earlier this year, after its short-lived experience as a meme stock. In all, the TLRY stock price has fallen nearly 89% since hitting its 52-week high on Feb. 10. It may seem like it’s best to follow the meme crowd’s lead, and forget about this stock completely.
Or is it? Tilray may be a situation where going against the grain could pay off. U.S. legalization may not be a big catalyst for it anymore, much less a likely one. Yet there are several catalysts at play. Ones that could send the stock (at around $7.50 per share today) back to much higher prices.
Like I discussed back in November, its expansion efforts in Canada and Europe could do just that. As my InvestorPlace colleague David Moadel recently argued, success with its line of THC-infused investors could have TLRY stock investors soon seeing green. Investors still bullish on pot stocks may want to buy it. There’s still plenty in its corner to help spark up a recovery.
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.
Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.