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When I needed a new vacuum cleaner last month, I knew exactly where to go:
Bed Bath & Beyond (OTCMKTS:BBBYQ).
The New Jersey-based retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 on April 23, had been on bankruptcy watch since February when creditors and suppliers began yanking liquidity. We’d all seen this story before, and InvestorPlace.com writer Thomas Niel pulled no punches in an analysis a couple of weeks before BBBY’s bankruptcy filing.
Time to use those expiring coupons!
At the time, many retail investors seemed entirely caught off guard. Meme investors were still buying until the very end, and some are still holding on.
“I think that Bed Bath & Beyond, even in bankruptcy, is one of the best deals in the stock market,” one 25-year-old investor said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this month. The newspaper noted how many BBBY investors remain committed, even as shares moved onto the over-the-counter (OTC) exchange.
Nevertheless, we’ve begun noticing a shift away from meme stocks and iffy cryptos. Our editor’s inbox has seen an uptick in readers thanking us for bearish takes (a rarity!), and articles like Omor Ibne Ehsan’s “3 Cryptos to Sell in May and Go Away” have received heavy readership. It’s a clear sign that the bottom is finally falling out of the meme stock frenzy.
We know you probably haven’t bought these speculative stocks before… and that you likely never will. But in case you have, here are five meme stocks to sell while you still can.
1. Mullen Automotive (MULN): A Meme Stock Collapses
In January, I wrote how electric vehicle startup Mullen Automotive (NASDAQ:MULN) had become the new Dogecoin (DOGE-USD) with none of the fun. Fans of the zero-revenue company seemed more interested in proving how right they were about the stock than making money.
It took a 1-for-25 reverse stock split on May 4 for others to feel the same way. Suddenly, former fanatics began realizing that management seemed more committed to enriching insiders than rewarding external shareholders. For many, the reverse split turned out to be the last straw.
InvestorPlace.com Assistant News Writer Eddie Pan has been carefully documenting the precipitous fall in Mullen’s share price. David Moadel has also recently published a piece warning investors to get out immediately. As the world’s top meme stock continues to drown in dilutive stock, don’t be surprised if the firm declares bankruptcy sooner than expected.
2. Plug Power (PLUG): Trying New Tactics
Shares of once-promising Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) have fallen by a third this year as competition heats up in the green energy space. As Louis Navellier and his team noted earlier this month for InvestorPlace.com:
Let’s be frank about this. There are plenty of businesses out there already, including some publicly traded ones, that are already in the EV charging business. Plug Power won’t be a first, second or third mover in this highly competitive field.
Essentially, Plug Power’s hydrogen fuel cell technology is quickly falling behind lithium-ion technologies. Attempts to escape into EV charging expose the firm to competition from better-funded rivals.
Retail investors are also beginning to abandon the stock. According to data from Fintel, the estimated share of retail investors has fallen by a third since October. Shares are down 30% since January, and Louis continues to warn investors to stay away.
3. Lordstown Motors (RIDE): A Slow Flameout
Often, meme stock investors stick around for longer than you might expect.
In 2020, as we reported at InvestorPlace.com, the Ohio-based Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ:RIDE) looked ready to fall to $0. The electric pickup startup was using inflated figures to hide the lack of any meaningful preorders and was “selling pickups to Wall Street instead of Main Street.” The short sellers at Hindenburg Research would publish a similar critique four months later.
It would take another two years for RIDE shares to sink below $1, which happened this March. And then, things got even worse. By May, shares had collapsed to 28 cents, forcing the firm to reverse-split its shares. The acceleration of Lordstown’s fall has been closely documented by William White at InvestorPlace.com.
Recent market data from Fintel shows us that available shares for sorting have fallen to near zero as short sellers outnumber buyers. History tells us these events are highly bearish signs, and retail investors are, for once, beginning to listen.
4. Pepe Coin (PEPE-USD): Mixing Memes and Madness
In early May, prices of meme cryptocurrency Pepe Coin (PEPE-USD) rose 20-fold on speculative purchasing. Its unrelated BRC-20 token would see even greater percentage gains.
But as we know… easy come, easy go.
Omor Ibne Ehsan was quick to document at InvestorPlace.com how meme coins – especially Pepe – “are not worth it, especially not near their peak.”
I’ve seen this story before with other meme coins. Dogecoin, the original dog-themed meme coin, has crashed over 88% since its peak. Apecoin (APE-USD), another meme coin that I warned about a few months after its launch, has virtually stopped being relevant after dropping 91.5%-plus from its all-time high.
Pepe is a sell, as it offers no long-term potential and is likely to keep sliding downwards.
Interest in meme coins has continued to sputter, suggesting Pepe Coin will continue to fall. Full turnover of the meme coin’s market capitalization now takes around four days, up from 20 hours earlier this month. Ethereum transaction fees – which spiked in early May on speculative meme coin trading – are down 50%.
To most investors, Pepe would seem like an obvious dud. But with a $500 million market capitalization, there’s surely more downside to be had.
5. AMC (AMC): Dethroning the King of the Apes
Finally, retail investors are beginning to lose interest in AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC), one of the biggest meme stocks of all. The cinema chain has seen a rapid decline in retail ownership this year, as noted by Fintel. Estimated retail ownership has declined by about 50% since December and is 70% lower than it was this time last year.
Over at InvestorPlace.com, David Moadel and Eddie Pan have also been documenting sales by institutional investors. Recent filings reveal that Bridgewater Associates sold its entire AMC position during this year’s first quarter, while Antara Capital dumped 2 million units of AMC Preferred Equity Units (NYSE:APE).
One major cause is the upcoming merge between AMC’s common stock with its APE preferred shares. The dilutive event has been stalled by Delaware courts, leaving fundraising efforts in limbo.
This will leave America’s largest theater chain with limited cash in the near term. The company is already down to $496 million in liquidity, down from $1.2 billion last June. Unless the firm can raise fresh equity capital soon, CEO Adam Aron will be forced to turn back to the debt markets that almost sank the firm once before.
Investors once hoped that AMC could consolidate the industry and become a rare meme-stock success story. Waning interest from primate-themed investors is now throwing that into question.
The School of Hard Knocks
Every experienced investor will have a story of their worst investment. Warren Buffett himself admitted in 2007 that his investment in no-moat Dexter Shoes was an utter disaster.
I’ll make more mistakes in the future – you can bet on that. A line from Bobby Bare’s country song explains what too often happens with acquisitions: “I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly woman, but I’ve sure woke up with a few.”
Nevertheless, top investors all learn from their mistakes. Buffett now rarely uses Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A, NYSE:BRK-B) stock to fund deals, knowing these stock-for-stock deals will compound any problems.
After more than two years of meme madness, retail investors also finally seem to be learning from their mistakes. Turnover and ownership in these speculative assets are down 50% or more, and we have noticed a clear change in sentiment from our readers.
It’s surely been an expensive lesson. Companies like Bed Bath & Beyond destroyed billions of shareholder value toward the end of their existence. But all experienced investors know that the School of Hard Knocks never comes cheap.
As of this writing, Tom Yeung did not hold (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.