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3 High-Risk, High-Reward Stocks to Add to Your Watchlist

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Updated Jun 17, 2020 at 9:09AM

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These stocks are not for the faint of heart but could deliver excellent returns for patient investors.

The stock market has rebounded sharply since its March lows, and the S&P 500 is on the verge of turning positive for 2020. However, the stocks of many companies whose businesses depend on the economic recovery are still well off their highs and stand to gain quite a bit if things go smoothly.

With that in mind, here's why Planet 13 Holdings (PLNH.F 4.72%), Seritage Growth Properties (SRG 3.92%), and Synchrony Financial (SYF -2.25%) are high-risk stocks with high reward potential that you might want to put on your radar.

People on a roller coaster.

Stocks like these can take you on quite a roller-coaster ride but could pay off tremendously for patient investors. Image source: Getty Images.

The only marijuana stock I've ever bought

I'm generally hesitant to get in on major investing trends in their early days. This is especially true with marijuana stocks, as many of the popular stocks in the industry have been extremely speculative in nature, extremely overvalued, or both in recent years.

That all change about a month ago when I bought shares of a relatively under-the-radar company called Planet 13 Holdings.

If you aren't familiar with Planet 13, the simple description is that it operates a marijuana dispensary in Las Vegas, but there's much more to the story. For one thing, the dispensary is a "Cannabis Superstore," that is closer to the size of the average Walmart than the typical dispensary. It is the largest dispensary in the world and with a coffee shop, restaurant, in-house production facility, and event space, it has become quite the tourist attraction with more than 1 million visitors in 2019.

While I'm a big fan of the Vegas business model, the real reason I'm so excited about Planet 13 is for its future growth potential. The company plans to open its second superstore later this year and wants to be in eight or more major U.S. markets within five years. Eventually, it wants to be a nationwide brand, and as the legalization trend continues, Planet 13 should have more exciting routes for expansion as time goes on.

Tons of room for value creation, but a lot needs to go right first

Seritage Growth Properties is a unique real estate investment trust, or REIT, that has tons of potential to create value. The company was created for the specific purpose of buying old Sears properties and redeveloping them into modern mixed-use developments.

The problem (especially as the pandemic started) is that redeveloping a portfolio of hundreds of properties isn't cheap. Seritage chooses not to pay a dividend and to reinvest all of its income into its growth strategy, but that suddenly became a bad strategy as its tenants were forced to close. It has a $400 million credit facility, but it can't be accessed until certain leasing targets are met.

However, the recent news has been quite a relief. As of June 3, about 80% of Seritage's tenants had reopened, and the company collected 65% and 52% of its April and May rent, respectively. This is significantly better than many had expected, and if the reopening trends continue, Seritage could potentially get back on track quickly. That's still a big if and is why Seritage is still trading for more than 60% less than its pre-pandemic share price.

A highly profitable but high-risk type of credit card lending

Synchrony Financial was one of the most beaten-down stocks in the financial sector as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened in March, and for good reason.

Synchrony is one of the largest credit card lenders in the world, specializing in store-branded credit cards. To name just a couple examples, the Gap and Lowes store credit cards are Synchrony products, as are dozens of other retailers' credit cards.

Now, credit card lending is a risky business. When consumers run into trouble paying bills, they prioritize things like their mortgage and car payment over their credit cards, so default rates tend to be higher than other types of loans. This is also why credit cards have such high interest rates, so it can still be a highly profitable business. And store credit cards are riskier than most -- Synchrony's charge-off rate in 2019 was around 6% of its outstanding loans, and that was during the good times. In tough economies, Synchrony's charge-offs could easily spike well into the double-digit range, and that fear is what drove its stock down.

On the other hand, Synchrony's business model is highly profitable. Because of the extremely high interest rates charged by store cards relative to general-use credit cards, Synchrony's net interest margin is more than 15%. Most other credit card issuers would be thrilled with a 10% margin.

The point is that there's quite a bit of wiggle room for Synchrony to absorb higher charge-offs during tough times, while keeping the business incredibly profitable during strong economies.

Be ready for a roller-coaster ride

None of these are low-risk stocks, so invest accordingly. These are all plays (to one extent or another) on the reopening of the economy, so I'd expect quite a roller coaster ride as the reopening and the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. Having said that, if things go smoothly for these three companies, patient long-term investors could be handsomely rewarded.

Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of Planet 13 Holdings Inc. and Seritage Growth Properties (Class A). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Planet 13 Holdings Inc. and Seritage Growth Properties (Class A). The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Synchrony Financial Stock Quote
Synchrony Financial
$28.19 (-2.25%) $0.65
Seritage Growth Properties Stock Quote
Seritage Growth Properties
$9.02 (3.92%) $0.34
Planet 13 Holdings Inc. Stock Quote
Planet 13 Holdings Inc.
$1.11 (4.72%) $0.05

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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