Stocks to sell

The Big Short of 2024: 7 Meme Stocks to Bet Against

Investor appetite for risky stocks has come back in recent months, but there are plenty of opportunities out there for bearish investors looking for meme stocks to short.

Even as factors like cooling inflation and an expected lowering of interest rates by the Federal Reserve point to a full exit from the more challenging times for the stock market during 2022 and 2023, it’s not as if conditions have swung fully back to the environment experienced during the pandemic era.

Interest rates may decrease, but not to near-zero levels. This could limit the extent to which more speculative names re-hit their respective 2020/2021 high water marks.

More importantly, even as the economic backdrop improves, plenty of companies are still experiencing headwinds from the downturn. With many of the meme stocks to short, including these seven, either or both of these reasons to go bearish applies.

AMC Entertainment (AMC)

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With shares trading at prices well below pre-meme price level, it may seem like the short trade with AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) has come and gone.

Yet while shares in the movie theater chain may be down by nearly 99% from their meme era highs, and down by 91.2% over the past year alone, the opportunity for “big short” profits may remain.

Shareholder dilution has played a big role in the AMC stock collapse. As one commentator recently pointed out, AMC’s share count is up by 1,250% over the past five years. Despite high optimism that AMC’s financial performance will improve, sell-side analysts continue to forecast another year of heavy losses in 2024.

Further heavy losses may in turn necessitate the need to sell more shares/engage in additional debt-for-equity swaps. With this, the dilution spiral with AMC could continue, sending it to even lower split-adjusted prices.

Carvana (CVNA)

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Carvana (NYSE:CVNA) experienced an epic short squeeze recovery during 2023. As InvestorPlace’s Jeremy Flint pointed out last month, shares in the online used automotive retailer gained by over 1000% during the year.

But despite the CVNA stock rebound putting the squeeze on short sellers, the short side of this trade remains very crowded comprising 39.9% of CVNA’s outstanding float.

This makes it one of the most heavily shorted stocks, and for a good reason. There’s still a chance that the bear case will prevail.

As a Seeking Alpha commentator argued earlier this month, negatives like Carvana’s rich valuation and still highly-leveraged balance sheet far outweigh positives like improved margins.

Concerns about the CVNA’s fundamentals may soon be in focus. As downside risk exceeds upside potential with CVNA, you may want to follow the lead of other short sellers, and fade this meme favorite.

Digital World Acquisition (DWAC)

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Digital World Acquisition (NASDAQ:DWAC), a once-popular special purpose acquisition company stock, has been making headlines again as of late.

As you may have guessed, it all has to do with former U.S. President (and 2024 Presidential candidate) Donald J. Trump.

Digital World’s SPAC merger target is Truth Social parent Trump Media and Technology Group. The transaction has been delayed several times, but candidate Trump’s recent Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary victories spurred a new round of speculative frenzy, resulting in DWAC stock soaring more-than 100% year-to-date.

However, since New Hampshire, this 2024 “Trump trade” has started to fade. Investors clearly realize that Trump’s election chances probably have little bearing on DWAC’s future prospects. Shares could retreat toward pre-spike prices (high-teens per share), making the stock at today’s prices (high-$30s per share) one of the top meme stocks to short.

Hut 8 (HUT)

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The recent cycling-back into cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency stocks made Hut 8 (NASDAQ:HUT) become popular with meme stock investors.

Yet while shares in this Bitcoin (CCC:BTC-USD) miner have pulled back since surging in late 2023, more downside may remain in 2024.

Mostly, because of the bear case laid out in a “short report” on HUT stock, issued by short-seller J Capital. The report makes several allegations about the company and its principals. all of which could be considered serious red flags. Hut 8 has so far been successful in fighting back against the allegations, as InvestorPlace’s Eddie Pan reported on Jan. 26.

Still, more could come out backing J Capital’s claims. The aforementioned meme wave with crypto stocks may also keep fading (as it’s done in recent weeks). This in turn could drive a big drop for HUT, making it perhaps a great vehicle for shorting the crypto space.

Medical Properties Trust (MPW)

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Yes, I can understand why even seasoned short-sellers may not be that too interested in making Medical Properties Trust (NYSE:MPW) one of the meme stocks to short.

Shares in this hospital real estate investment trust, currently trade for just over $3.25 per share.

This puts MPW stock in penny stock territory. Brokerage restrictions and margin requirements mean that it’s typically harder to short penny stocks compared to stocks trading for $5 per share or higher. Medical Properties Trust has a high forward yield (18.35%) even after reducing its dividend. Covering this fat dividend is another challenge for those shorting MPW.

Nevertheless, after tumbling by 74% over the past year, another big plunge could arrive later this year. As I argued recently, MPW continues to contend with major tenant issues. Further dividend reductions may drive another round of high double-digit percentage price declines.

Plug Power (PLUG)

Source: T. Schneider / Shutterstock.com

Like MPW, Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) also has penny stock status, which on the surface calls into question the merits of shorting it, but the details signal it may be a trade worth making.

Over the past four years, PLUG stock has surged and sank. Shares in this hydrogen energy play surged during the “green wave” bubble, but then plummeted due to market downturn, weak financial results and shareholder dilution.

Those who shorted PLUG early have made big profits, yet don’t assume the opportunity to place a bearish bet has come-and-gone.

Analysts, most recently BMO’s Ameet Thakkar, continue to downgrade/lower price targets for the stock, largely due to uncertainty surrounding Plug Power’s ability to finance future growth projects. Further use of dilutive equity raises may drive additional declines.

Rivian Automotive (RIVN)

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When it comes to meme stocks to short in the electric vehicle space, Rivian Automotive (NASDAQ:RIVN) may not be the first name that comes to mind.

There are plenty of lower-quality EV stocks that have been popular with retail traders despite poor fundamentals.

However, while names like Lucid Group (NASDAQ:LCID) are already in the “stock market junkyard,” RIVN stock is still on its way to this destination. Yes, Rivian has had relatively greater success so far producing and selling its line of electric pickup trucks and SUVs compared to rival startups.

Still, even as revenues are expected to jump by more than 50% this year, high losses per shares are also forecasted to persist. Already down nearly 35% this year, as investors walk back expectations, and the market concedes Rivian is in one key way (profitability) sharing the same boat as the “EV also-rans.”

On the date of publication, Thomas Niel held Bitcoin. He 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.

Thomas Niel, contributor for InvestorPlace.com, has been writing single-stock analysis for web-based publications since 2016.

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