Investors are always looking for a good bargain. And companies whose share prices have plunged can represent great buying opportunities if conditions are right. But there are some stocks to avoid at any price given their operating losses and flawed business models.
Traders tolerated large losses in recent years if a company seemingly had a path to robust profitability. However, the recent bear market changed that, and time is running out for a lot of struggling growth enterprises.
The three stocks to avoid below seem to be lost causes. Between flawed strategic plans, poor operating results and current economic headwinds, it’s hard to see a road to recovery for any of them.
Beyond Meat (BYND)
Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) is a small consumer staples company seeking to redefine the protein space. The firm initially reached prominence with its plant-based meat patties. It has since launched other plant-based items such as sausage and jerky. As Beyond Meat partnered with prominent fast-food chains and grocery stores, shares soared on hopes that the innovator would take off.
Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Beyond Meat’s niche remains small and it faces intense competition from other plant-based protein alternatives. As a result, revenue peaked in 2021 and began to tumble.
In 2022, the company saw revenue decline 9.8% year over year to $418.9 million. It also had a negative gross margin of -5.7%, meaning it cost more to assemble its plant patties and other products than it got from selling them. And that’s before accounting for overhead such as marketing, executive compensation and taxes. Just in making and selling its products, Beyond Meat is now losing money.
On an adjusted EBITDA basis, Beyond Meat lost $278 million in 2022, or more than 66% of its net revenue. That’s simply disastrous.
Most growth companies are able to give investors an enticing story since there is the possibility that the firm will eventually reach scale and make money. In Beyond Meat’s case, however, the company has awful profit margins and revenue is plunging. That’s a recipe for disaster.
Affirm (NASDAQ:AFRM) is a fintech company seeking to disrupt the payments industry. Its mission is to bring “buy now, pay later” technology to consumers. Buy now, pay later is intended to give consumers the ability to make purchases over a series of payments while avoiding the interest that would be incurred with a traditional credit card that wasn’t paid off promptly.
In practice, Affirm has struggled to make the model work. It charges vendors for offering the buy now, pay later service since it should help drive sales growth at said retailers. But, it appears Affirm isn’t charging vendors enough to underwrite the service.
The company lost $360 million in the most recently reported quarter alone. Its operating loss was 84% higher than in the comparable quarter in 2021. This is a classic example of a company increasing losses as the business expanded, which is never a good sign. And with soaring interest rates and a weakening economy, Affirm could see rising credit losses going forward.
Affirm was already in trouble given its large operating losses and mounting macroeconomic concerns. But Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may have just put the final nail in Affirm’s coffin. In late March, Apple announced it is rolling out its own buy now, pay later service. Given Apple’s existing payments technology and tremendous brand, this is likely to siphon off a significant chunk of Affirm’s existing customer base.
Put Affirm on your list of stocks to avoid.
Riot Platforms (RIOT)
Riot Platforms (NASDAQ:RIOT) is a company primarily focused on the mining of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin (BTC-USD). Investors became enamored with these types of companies several years ago when cryptocurrency prices were soaring.
However, that has all changed. Several major cryptocurrencies collapsed. This, in turn, caused various investment firms related to crypto to shut down. Now the problems have spread to the banking sector, with banks that focused on cryptocurrency, such as Silvergate Bank, becoming insolvent. Additionally, regulators are cracking down on major remaining cryptocurrency exchanges.
All this to say that cryptocurrency has entered a deep freeze. That’s bad for the likes of Riot Platforms. Indeed, its cryptocurrency mining revenue slid 15% from $184.4 million in 2021 to $156.9 million in 2022. The company lost $509.6 million in 2022 thanks primarily to impairments related to overpriced acquisitions, falling values of mining equipment, and a decrease in the value of cryptocurrency held on the firm’s balance sheet.
Despite the company’s massive problems, RIOT stock has rallied sharply in recent weeks. This makes little sense. A market cap of $1.7 billion is far too rich for an unprofitable firm with modest revenue in a struggling industry.
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.