What happened

Shares of rare earth metals miner MP Materials (MP -2.66%) jumped as much as 15% today, with a big share increase coming at roughly 10 a.m. EST. The relatively young company, which came public via a blank check company (formally known as a special purpose acquisition company) in late 2020, is a play on a very interesting theme right now. Although nothing material changed about the story here today, the company did get to talk about it.

So what

Rare earth metals are used in high-tech products, notably the batteries that help make electric vehicles possible. However, the vast majority of these materials come out of Asia, mostly China. China has reportedly discussed the imposition of export restrictions, presumably as a trade bargaining tool, which could be a disaster for non-Chinese companies.

MP Materials is one of the few non-Chinese options for companies to acquire rare earth metals. So it is a play on two separate and high-profile issues today -- rare earth metals/electric vehicles and trade with China. On top of that, the company is in the process of expanding its business so that it can provide a broader and more comprehensive replacement to Chinese rare earth supplies. So there's even internal growth potential here, as well. All in, there really is a lot to like about the story MP Materials has to tell, and investors tend to like stories.  

A man standing in mouth of mine with the sun in the background.

Image source: Getty Images.

But today it looks like the telling of that story is the really big issue. The company presented at an industry conference today and will be featured on Mad Money, a popular business television show, later in the day. Events like these, particularly an appearance on a national television show, often draw investors into a stock. So it isn't surprising that MP Materials jumped on the conference presentation and the news of its television appearance. 

Now what

Although the story behind MP Materials is quite compelling, it is important to consider that the stock has risen roughly 180% in about three months. That's a huge price increase in a very short period of time. Moreover, the gain today appears to be driven by publicity more than any major change in the story. So one might be tempted to suggest that investors are extremely enthusiastic right now, perhaps even exuberant. That's not a bad thing, but it looks like a lot of good news has been priced into the stock at this point. Long-term investors should keep that in mind when they consider the appeal of MP Materials' stock.