We’ve already seen valuations drop in 2022, as investors priced in an economic slowdown. However, it’s unclear whether a full-on market crash is being priced into equity markets right now.
Indeed, many pockets of the stock market are showing signs of life once again in 2023. Investors appear to be betting on the potential for the Federal Reserve to go from interest rate hikes to cuts, in short order. Thus, some of the highest-risk pockets of the market are seeing the most buying pressure, as we move toward the end of Q1.
That said, the potential for a market crash, or at least a significant recession, is increasing. The yield curve remains extremely inverted (though it has been steepening of late) and, despite inflation coming down slightly, prices are still rising at a considerable rate. This will likely make the job of central bankers more difficult.
For investors, the question is what this means for higher-risk equities. In my view, now’s not the time to get greedy trying to time stocks that have already made significant momentum-driven moves.
Here are three stocks I’d avoid, particularly for those worried about a potential market crash around the corner.
With the release of Peloton’s (NASDAQ:PTON) Q2 results, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this is a company that’s not hitting the profitability goals it’s set for itself, or that the market expects. The company brought in higher revenue than expected ($792.7 million vs. $710 million projected), but missed big time on its bottom line, losing 98 cents per share, relative to expectations for a loss of only 64 cents per share.
In this market, profitability matters more than revenue growth and, while investors appear to still remain more bullish on this stock than at the start of the year (PTON stock is still up roughly 20% year-to-date), it’s also clear that Peloton’s financial picture is nowhere near as rosy as many had painted it following the pandemic.
When gyms were closed, and Peloton’s at-home exercise bikes were all the rage, things were different. This was a stock that was valued as if its “sticky” revenues would remain so over the long-term. Unfortunately, quarter upon quarter of significant losses has shaken investor confidence in this stock. Until there’s a pathway to profitability, I think PTON stock is likely to remain on the out.
Sure, cost-cutting measures will help somewhat. But this is a company with macro headwinds that I think may be too strong to ignore, particularly in a market downturn.
Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) stock has gone through substantial fluctuations, as the company has posted sizable profits and losses over the last several years. In 2020, the biotech company experienced a surge of over 2,700% in stock value thanks to investor optimism surrounding its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. However, as the vaccine candidate faced delays, Novavax’s shares began to decline. Eventually, the vaccine was approved for commercial use, albeit later than its competitors, which limited the company’s revenue potential.
Right now, many analysts and experts view the window of opportunity with COVID-19 vaccines as essentially closed. While Novavax ultimately received approval, it’s clear that other larger Pharma behemoths beat this smaller player to the punch. Thus, while we may all go out and get our annual shot, it’s unclear how many patients will request a Novavax shot (or how well-supplied providers will be in this regard).
Another pandemic-related winner, Novavax has seen its share price plunge more than 90% over the past 12 months. I think this decline could potentially continue, market crash or not.
In its latest financial report, Novavax raised concerns about the possibility of ceasing its operations. One of the challenges the company attempts to address is linked to a funding agreement with the United States government which, at this time, has only been extended through 2023, thereby jeopardizing nearly $400 million in funding.
There’s too much hair on NVAX stock for conservative investors to buy in and, even if the market rallies, I think there are better opportunities out there. In a market crash scenario, forget about it.
Riot Platforms (RIOT)
Riot Platforms (NASDAQ:RIOT), formerly Riot Blockchain, is a crypto mining company focused on proof-of-work mining, primarily for Bitcoin (BTC-USD). Like the other names on this list, Riot has seen some bullish momentum build this year.
Much of this has to do with rising crypto prices. Indeed, so long as Bitcoin increases in value, Riot and other crypto miners should see higher valuations. That’s because Riot’s revenue is largely denominated in Bitcoin, with its fixed costs denominated in dollars.
Accordingly, in many respects, RIOT stock is a highly-leveraged bet on the future of crypto. As we’ve seen in previous crypto rallies, accommodative monetary policy and a bull market in all risk assets tends to bode well for digital tokens. However, if a market crash takes hold, investors can forget about their outsized returns.
My view is that crypto miners like Riot are likely too speculative to consider right now. While Riot may be the best of the bunch, this stock is one that lives and dies by the price of Bitcoin. For investors who can handle the potential volatility, that’s fine. It’s just not for me.
On the date of publication, Chris MacDonald 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.