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3 Stocks to Avoid This Week

By Rick Munarriz – Sep 14, 2020 at 7:00AM

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An office furniture icon, an electric vehicle upstart, and an interrupted cruise line seem pretty vulnerable.

I took a look at three stocks to avoid last week, and I was right. All three stocks declined between 5% and 13%, checking in with an average slide of 9.7% for the holiday-abridged trading week. It wasn't a good week in general for Wall Street, but the market itself only suffered a 2.5% dip.

Let's move to the week ahead, but first we bid farewell to a staple over the past month. Tesla Motors (TSLA -1.10%) spent the past four weeks on this list. I was early, figuring that the pre-split surge was getting out of hand. The electric car maker soared through the first two weeks before falling sharply the past two after the split went into effect. It was still a bad overall call. Tesla Motors rose 13% in the span of those four weeks. With a highly anticipated media event set for later this month, it's probably best for bears to stay on the sidelines. 

For this week, I see Herman Miller (MLKN -8.02%), Nikola (NKLA -1.40%), and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH -18.04%) as vulnerable investments in the near term. Here's why I think these are three stocks to avoid this week.

A woman on a chair looking down as question marks and a downward facing arrow are drawn on the wall behind her.

Image source: Getty Images.

Herman Miller

There aren't a lot of companies reporting fresh financials this week, but Herman Miller stands out as a potential troublemaker. The company behind high-end office furniture reports fiscal first-quarter results after Wednesday's close. 

Herman Miller isn't offering guidance these days, but Wall Street pros have an opinion. They see revenue sliding 22% in the report. If you think that's bad, the real red flag is that Herman Miller's has fallen short of analyst top-line estimates for three consecutive quarters. In short, recent history tells us that Wall Street's too high. The bottom line has been kinder -- consistently coming ahead of expectations over the past year -- but there's only so much more cost-cutting that Herman Miller can do at this point with its business going the wrong way.

The pandemic exodus from executive offices will eat into Herman Miller's signature product orders, but the bullish counter here is that well-heeled managers working from home will want to duplicate the experience with Herman Miller's flagship chairs and accessories. The rub is that this didn't play out in a bullish way in the fiscal quarter ending in May with revenue also plunging by more than 20%. It's hard to be encouraged heading into this week's report.    

Nikola

Last week was pretty wild for Nikola and its shareholders. The stock initially soared after General Motors (GM -3.52%) announced that it was buying a $2 billion stake in the electric-truck start-up and teaming up to take Nikola's Badger pickup to market. Those gains evaporated as the week played out after noted short-seller Hindenberg Research called Nikola a lies-hyped fraud. The grim end result is that a stock that traded as much as 53% higher on Tuesday closed out the week with a 10% decline.

There's a lot to unpack here. GM is getting a lot for its $2 billion stake, and that includes supplying the batteries and fuel cells that will go into the truck, validating the engineering of the vehicle, and building the vehicle. Nikola will fund these GM tasks, calling into question the start-up's proprietary tech claims. 

Nikola is going to be volatile. Wild swings are the norm, and that comes with the territory given the nature of its largely young base of Robinhood shareholders. Tesla Motors has made electric vehicles a hot niche for speculators, but at least Tesla has a long history of success with its growing product line. This will be a battleground stock in the near term, and until Nikola's founder can eviscerate Hindenberg's claims, it could be time to stage a retreat. 

Norwegian Cruise Line

Cruise line stocks have been inching higher in recent weeks on the hopes that a COVID-19 vaccine will hit the market sooner rather than later, something that would help put an end to the industry practice of pushing resumption dates deeper into the calendar. With the chances that a remedy will roll out in two months dimmed last week, it's time to take a more cautious stance.

Norwegian Cruise Line continues to be the smallest of the three publicly traded players. It has raised less money during the lull to keep afloat, but it also needs less money given its smaller fleet and operations. The cruise industry isn't going to make a full recovery anytime soon, and if there's a shakeout, it's going to be the small fry that gets lost at sea. 

If you're looking for safe stocks, you aren't likely to find them in Herman Miller, Tesla Motors, or Norwegian Cruise Line this week. 

Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Tesla. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

General Motors Company Stock Quote
General Motors Company
GM
$32.09 (-3.52%) $-1.17
Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
Tesla, Inc.
TSLA
$265.25 (-1.10%) $-2.96
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Stock Quote
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
NCLH
$11.36 (-18.04%) $-2.50
MillerKnoll, Inc. Stock Quote
MillerKnoll, Inc.
MLKN
$15.60 (-8.02%) $-1.36
Nikola Corporation Stock Quote
Nikola Corporation
NKLA
$3.52 (-1.40%) $0.05

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

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