Although the general concept of stock picks for contrarian investors may be universally appealing, when it comes to the most extreme examples, most investors should probably stay away. Basically, while the rewards for when the stars align can be enormously high, they rarely align. In the long run, it’s better to stick with established investing protocols.
At the same time, high-risk, high-reward stocks offer tremendous leverage, usually within a near-term framework. Also, it’s rare that people talk about non-speculative investments. Would we be talking about the securities that hedge fund manager Michael Burry likes if he didn’t take a contrarian bet against the housing market? I highly doubt it.
So, the appeal for gambling on Wall Street is understandable. However, you’re going to want to exercise intense caution. Plenty of the ideas below take the concept of speculation to the extreme. If you can handle the heat, below are the stock picks for contrarian investors.
At first glance, fashion apparel and accessories company Guess (NYSE:GES) doesn’t really seem a sensible investment. More than likely, it’s not. I’m just being frank with you. With the consumer economy still suffering from stubbornly high inflation along with elevated borrowing costs, GES isn’t a reliable player. Still, if you’re talking exclusively about pocket change, I suppose GES ranks among the stock picks for contrarian investors.
Interestingly, while GES is up only about 4% since the January opener, in the trailing half-year period, shares gained over 21%. Part of the contrarian sentiment may center on a possible bear trade that could go wrong for the pessimists. Specifically, Fintel’s screener for options flow – which exclusively targets big block trades – reveals that in April of this year, a major entity sold 629 contracts of the Jan 19 ’24 30.00 Call.
At the time, GES traded hands for just under $20 so the wager made sense. But with shares rising, the call writer may be on the hook. If you’re into high-risk, high-reward stocks, GES could be interesting.
Kura Sushi (KRUS)
An intriguing culinary experience, Kura Sushi (NASDAQ:KRUS) is a Japanese restaurant perhaps best known for its revolving sushi service model. Under decisively bullish conditions, KRUS could be worth a look. However, with consumer pressures such as inflation and high interest rates, Kura appears vulnerable to the trade-down effect. Subsequently, shares slipped around 20% over the trailing six-month period.
Notably, a Seeking Alpha article points out that pessimistic sentiment has impacted the restaurant industry. At the same time, Kura maintains a strong profit margin for the industry. Further, it may have room for additional growth. For those interested in stock picks for contrarian investors, KURA might be a falling knife worth attempting to catch.
Looking at Fintel’s Short Squeeze Leaderboard, KRUS ranks as number 118 out of 250 enterprises. Specifically, it runs a short interest of 22.58% of its float. Typically, anything above 10% is elevated and metrics above 20% is extremely so.
Also, analysts rate KURA a moderate buy with a $73.17 average price target, implying robust growth.
General Motors (GM)
As an automotive giant in the middle of a transition to electric vehicles, General Motors (NYSE:GM) easily ranks among the high-risk, high-reward stocks. Also, the impact and the overall distraction that the United Auto Workers (UAW) strike imposed didn’t help matters. Perhaps unsurprisingly, GM lost double-digit-percentage points since the beginning of this year. Further, the negative acceleration has been quite rough in recent sessions.
Still, GM may be – relatively speaking of course – one of the sensible stock picks for contrarian investors. To be clear, the underlying legacy auto firm still faces headwinds. However, with the turbulent conditions in the consumer economy, not everyone can afford to transition to EVs. Since General Motors still offers a robust pipeline of combustion-powered cars, it’s effectively a hybrid investment.
Also, if you anticipate brighter days ahead, GM trades for only a forward earnings multiple of 4x. For full disclosure, investment data aggregator Gurufocus considers GM a possible value trap. However, it’s also one of the enterprises that could possibly weather an EV price war.
Archer Aviation (ACHR)
If you don’t mind relying on narratives, Archer Aviation (NYSE:ACHR) could be one of the stock picks for contrarian investors. Specializing in electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Archer could be a gamechanger in air mobility services. Certainly, retail investors love ACHR, with shares well into triple-digit-percentage territory since the January opener. However, things haven’t looked that great since roughly mid-September.
Then again, this could be where ACHR might shine as one of the high-risk, high-reward stocks. No, Archer doesn’t generate revenue at the moment, which presents concerns for conservative investors. On the other hand, the company enjoys a cash and cash equivalents amount of $461.4 million. Also, the company doesn’t have any debt on the balance sheet, affording much flexibility.
Also, major investors appear optimistic about ACHR, with several options trades involving bought calls and sold puts. Additionally, while ACHR is clearly one of the high-risk, high-reward stocks, analysts rate shares as a unanimous strong buy. Thus, it could tempt market gamblers.
Perhaps the ultimate risk for stock picks for contrarian investors, Petco (NASDAQ:WOOF) clearly isn’t an idea for risk-averse market participants. Since the start of the year, WOOF lost more than 60% of equity value. That’s a tough pill to swallow because ever since its public market debut, the trajectory has been painfully negative.
At the same time, Americans love their pets. As I explained to CGTN America anchor Frances Kuo in a live TV interview, the inflation rate for pet products is twice that of regular goods and services. Sure enough, many pet owners have felt the crunch, leading to delayed veterinary care. Still, it’s that resilience to keep moving forward for their four-legged friends that could be Petco’s saving grace.
Interestingly, options flow data for WOOF shows that most institutional investors have largely given up on bearish transactions. Indeed, bearishly tilted trades have largely expired. That may also suggest that most of the current pessimists are retail traders, exposing a possible short-squeeze opportunity.
Cassava Sciences (SAVA)
At first glance, Cassava Sciences (NASDAQ:SAVA) appears to be too “hot” of an opportunity among high-risk, high-reward stocks. Sure, the two analysts that presently cover SAVA believe that shares will move much, much higher. At the high end, H.C. Wainwright’s Vernon Bernardino believes shares will hit $124. On the “low” end, the assessment lands at $75.
However, the average price target of $99.50 may seem overly generous based on SAVA’s volatility. Over the trailing one-year period, shares stumbled more than 52%. So, just by getting back to the original starting point, SAVA could easily reward speculators. But how likely is the pharmaceutical firm – which specializes in finding treatments for Alzheimer’s disease – to rise that high or at all?
Significantly, an October report by The New York Times brought to light possible research misconduct against Cassava. Nevertheless, the two analysts that reiterated their buy ratings did so on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8. If you don’t mind extraordinary risks, SAVA could be one of the stock picks for contrarian investors.
Arqit Quantum (ARQQ)
Just to be upfront, Arqit Quantum (NASDAQ:ARQQ) is truly a shot in the dark. At the time of writing, ARQQ trades for well under a dollar. And that translates to a market capitalization of around $92 million. You don’t want to invest a cent more here than you can afford to lose. Having dropped 93% of equity value in the trailing 52 weeks, you’re working against the odds.
Nevertheless, if you want to take stock picks for contrarian investors to the extreme, I guess you can throw some loose change you found at the bottom of the sofa at ARQQ. Fundamentally, what I like about Arqit is the underlying relevance. Per its website, the company offers advanced cybersecurity protocols – involving zero trust encryption keys – designed to keep intruders out.
Of course, cybersecurity is a hot topic and will likely continue to be hotter. With major enterprises suffering from severe data breaches, it’s never been more important to stay ahead of nefarious actors. Finally, H.C. Wainwright rates shares a buy with a stunning $4 price target.
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.