Stocks can take off for many different reasons, but gravity will be cruel if the catalyst is flimsy. Seeing Blue Apron Holdings (APRN) soar as much as 59% higher on Tuesday appears to be one of the cases where the rally is just too good to be true.
The provider of meal kits by mail rallied after announcing that it would begin offering meatless burger options featuring patties from Beyond Meat (BYND 2.47%) next month. Blue Apron has offered vegetarian plans for some time, so it's not as if it's carving out a new market with this move.
One can also probably assume that if Blue Apron was merely announcing that it would be offering plant-based burger meals as an option that it would go unnoticed by investors. The key to the pep in the stock's step is that it's Beyond Meat -- the hottest IPO of 2019 -- that will provide the "burger" here. Like biting into a Beyond Meat patty, good luck finding any substantive meat here.
Gazpacho meets the skillet
Blue Apron is cold. Beyond Meat is hot. It's a perfect combination for an air-fluffed rally. Blue Apron was as out-of-favor as one could be before Monday's news, forced to execute a 1-for-15 reverse split last month in order to achieve a minimum share price required to keep its major exchange listing.
The stock has been a disaster since going public at $10 -- now split-adjusted to a starting line of $150 -- just two summers ago. The stock had plummeted 95% through Monday's close, and even if this odd news finds the stock doubling in price, it would still be 90% below its IPO price.
Blue Apron made the cardinal sin of going public just as its business was peaking. Sales have clocked in with double-digit percentage declines in six consecutive quarters. The 550,000 active accounts it was servicing at the end of March is a figure that is 30% lower than it was a year earlier.
Beyond Meat is going the other way. The stock is a six-bagger since going public two months ago. It's growing at a monstrous clip as its plant-based burger winds up in more grocery stores as well as being served up at more restaurants. Beyond Meat's success may actually hurt Blue Apron here. The stock may be getting a lot of attention on the news, but why make your own Beyond Meat burger when you can just buy one already made at TGI Friday's, BurgerFi, or Carl's Jr.? In nearly every case, the restaurant-bought option will be cheaper.
Blue Apron seems to be rallying only because it's hitching its fading horse to Beyond Meat's wagon. Would the stock have rallied if Blue Apron went with the equally popular Impossible Foods patty? Blue Apron's pop is unlikely to be sustainable. The short squeeze may be shaking up the chart, but a few days from now it will probably be back to business for Blue Apron -- and for now, that business does not look like it's turning the corner anytime soon.