The appetite for meme stocks that swept Wall Street in early 2021 may have lost its steam but the phenomenon is still alive and kicking. The likes of AMC (NYSE:AMC) and GameStop (NYSE:GME) became the poster children for the meme phenomenon – one which was driven by retail investors.
This social-media-driven buying was well supported by discount brokerages, which offer the convenience of trading from anywhere on a mobile phone and allow zero-commission trades. For investors, meme stocks provided an option to splurge the disposable income they accumulated due to limited spending avenues during the pandemic.
Social media discussion areas such as the “WallStreetBets” Reddit forum served as places for rallying investors around stocks considered underdogs. This led to mass and concerted buying in these once-obscure but popular stocks, as evident in huge volumes traded.
In response, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission released a 30-second video earlier this year to explain the perils of investing in meme stocks, clamped down on trading apps that facilitated meme stock trading and said in June it is monitoring volatility in some meme stocks to find out if there has been any misconduct.
Despite all that, it appears that the phenomenon isn’t going away anytime soon. A case in point is the strong run-up seen in cosmetics company Revlon (NYSE:REV) last month. Following rumors of bankruptcy filing, the stock gained roughly 300% in about six sessions in June.
I would recommend exercising the utmost caution when deciding to commit your funds to meme stocks — they hold the allure of quick gains but invariably carry lots of risk.
Here’s a list of a few surprising meme stocks that could be good buys for the remainder of the year:
Shares of social-media platform Snap (NYSE:SNAP) took off in a big way just as the pandemic broke out in early 2020. The run lasted till September 2021. From just a tad above $9 in mid-March 2020, the stock flew off to a high of $83.34 on Sept. 24, 2021, a mouth-watering gain of over 800% in about a year and a half.
Fundamentals did play a part in this huge upside, as Snap positioned itself as a go-to platform for teens and the youth. But some of it has also to do with the prop provided by the retail crowd.
Snap’s rally snapped amid the tech sell-off that began in late 2021. The stock took particular punishment on May 27, when chief executive officer Evan Spiegel warned of a further deterioration in macroeconomic conditions than what the company had modeled in its second-quarter guidance. This dragged the stock lower and it is currently trading at a mid-teens level.
Having already discounted the worst, the stock could stage a recovery in the second half of the year.
Virgin Galactic (SPCE)
Virgin Galactic (NYSE:SPCE) is billionaire Richard Branson’s space tourism company. The stock is currently trading in single digits, a far cry from its 2021 peak of $62.80.
The company has done test flights but has yet to launch a commercial service. The commercial service of VSS Unity, one of the company’s crewed spaceplanes, will launch in the first quarter of 2023. The schedule was postponed because supply chain woes hit it. The company expects to eventually fly it at a frequency of once a month. Ahead of that, a test flight is scheduled for the fourth quarter.
Virgin Galactic plans to begin revenue-generating spaceflights of VSS Imagine, another of its crewed spaceplane, in the first quarter of 2023. Commercial flights will follow in the middle of 2023 at a frequency of two per month.
The company began taking reservations for spaceflights earlier this year and a ticket reportedly costs $450,000. The Branson-led company recently signaled strong ticket demand, with about 800 future astronaut reservations.
Space tourism is a lucrative market, and it is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 12.4% between 2020 and 2025 to $1.3 billion. If the upcoming catalysts play out positively, this meme stock should take flight again.
Nio (NYSE:NIO) qualifies as a meme stock due to its wide retail following. The stock hasn’t been able to capitalize much on this retail pull though, especially after it retreated from its all-time high of $66.99 reached in January 2021.
The Chinese electric vehicle maker had a very ordinary 2021 amid company-specific production issues and a lack of new model launch. Nio’s frenzied retail following was touting 2022 as the turnaround year. Then the Covid-19 lockdown in China poured cold water on the hopes.
With Covid abating and Nio successfully launching two of the three production models planned for the year, sentiment should begin to turn around. The valuation is an added incentive to buy into the stock.
A recent short report raised questions about the credibility of the company and its financials but Nio has strongly refuted the claims. The stock has now become a show-me story. The company has to execute on its production plans to capitalize on the still-vibrant EV demand both in China and in the overseas market it has set foot on.
Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) continues to be backed by retail investors despite its many vaccine missteps. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control have finally authorized its Covid vaccine in the U.S. though, after it was officially approved or authorized in several other locations.
The Maryland-based biopharma shot to prominence in 2020 when it started its Covid-19 vaccine program, which was heavily funded by the federal government. The stock, which was trading under $5 ahead of the pandemic, rallied through the company’s vaccine development. At one point in early 2021, the stock hit $300.
The optimism did not last. Novavax was found grappling with manufacturing issues even as others who entered the fray around the same time successfully brought their vaccine programs to fruition.
The abatement of the pandemic has made it necessary for Novavax to look for other revenue streams as well. The company plans to have an omicron-specific vaccine in the fourth quarter. A flu shot and a vaccine for the respiratory syncytial virus are also in late-stage development.
Data analytics company Palantir (NYSE:PLTR) became a retail favorite immediately after it public debut through direct listing in September 2020. The stock quickly climbed to a post-initial-public-offering high of $45 in January 2021.
Since then, the stock has pulled back notably, and the weakness only intensified amid the tech rout that resulted from recession and Federal Reserve rate hike fears.
Palantir’s mainstay government revenue has seen a deceleration in growth in recent quarters. But to its credit, the company has managed to diversify its client base. The commercial segment’s contribution has more room for improvement.
Margin is another problem area for the company, as it continues to rake up losses.
The economic fundamentals need to improve for the company to find traction with both existing and prospective customers. But if it can, there’s plenty of room to run higher.
Faraday Future (FFIE)
Los Angeles, California-based EV manufacturer Faraday Future (NASDAQ:FFIE) is a pre-revenue company, and its stock doubled in the last month despite a lack of any major news.
Faraday Future has multiple models in its pipeline – its FF 91 flagship vehicle, the FF 81 and FF 71 mass-market models, and a smart last-mile delivery van.
As of March 31, 2022, the company had 401 preorders for the two variants of the FF 91 model. The first deliveries will begin in the third quarter of 2022. As production ramps, the company plans to produce 6,000 to 8,000 cars of this model in 2023. It expects to sell the vehicle in both the U.S. and China.
The company has contracted South Korean automaker Myoung Shin to manufacture the FF 81, which is supposed to be its first high-volume vehicle.
If Faraday Future executes on its strategy, it stands to take advantage of the huge total addressable market opportunity. The company does have some unique advantages, such as its asset-light model due to the contract manufacturing partnerships.
Geo Group (GEO)
The last of our meme stocks is Boca Raton-based Geo Group (NYSE:GEO). GEO is a real estate investment trust, which invests in private prisons and allied services. It has worldwide operations across the U.S., Australia, South Africa and the U.K.
The stock assumed meme status in mid-2021 when it jumped about 73% in a single session on June 9. The strong gain came despite fundamentals stacked up against the company.
President Joe Biden’s executive order in early 2021 kept the Justice Department from renewing any expiring privately operated prison contracts. Lenders, led by big financial institutions, were reluctant to extend financing for private prison operators. These downside catalysts led to a steep sell-off in private prison stocks in the first half of 2021. It was at this time that the retail crowd swooped in, kickstarting a rally.
After a northward climb, the stock retreated at the start of the year and bottomed in mid-March. Sentiment has reversed since then.
Given the stock is approaching a level at which it has found support multiple times in the past, I expect renewed buying.
On the date of publication, Shanthi Rexaline 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.