Most investors are aware by now that heavily shorted shares of movie theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings recently went through what's called a short squeeze, denting the performance of hedge funds betting against the stock by rewarding small investors betting on it. Many of those same investors also know this short squeeze was coordinated on Reddit. Indeed, a wide swath of these investors even knows that AMC and other battleground stocks are now regularly called meme stocks, in reference to how they're viewed and traded by small-time players.
If you think all meme stocks are just pawns in a showdown between big and small investors though, think again. A handful of the names being heavily discussed on message boards are not only solid companies, but offer serious growth opportunities. Here's a closer look at three of the best of these stocks even non-speculators can consider.
Yes, the name that started the smartphone race a couple of decades ago is still around. It doesn't make mobile devices anymore. Rather, BlackBerry (BB -2.00%) is a software company with a strong focus on security and automobile connectivity solutions. Last fiscal year it did about $1 billion worth of business, improving a bit in the prior year's top line.
Revenue isn't the same as profit though. There's the rub.
The company's been in and out of the black since 2012 when its smartphone business peaked and it began to morph into the software organization we know today. It's shown just enough promise in the meantime to justify remaining in business, but not so much that onlookers have been confident in its survival. This is the chief reason it's now a contentious meme stock; the bears and the bulls both have plenty of fodder to work with.
Investors looking past the impact and noise of the pandemic, however, will find this once-iconic company is easing its way back to sustained success. As fellow fool Leo Sun recently put it, new partnerships -- including with Amazon's cloud computing arm -- built on the company's technologies "will presumably strengthen BlackBerry's software and services segment."
Granted, Sun remains concerned that BlackBerry faces stiff competition in its key markets, which in turn could lead to lackluster performance from the stock. The stock remains an institutional punching bag though, which means just a little good news could significantly boost the stock price.
2. Palantir Technologies
While BlackBerry may be a familiar name to investors, the relatively young technology outfit Palantir Technologies (PLTR -2.77%) probably isn't.
In simplest terms, Palantir helps enterprises do something constructive with the mountain of digital data they're sitting on. From automobile makers to insurance companies to law enforcement (just to name a few), Palantir's tech allows customers to turn information into an action plan.
While it's a relatively crowded field, it's also a relatively young industry with room for growth from many players. Analysts estimate revenue will grow by more than 30% this year and next, driving similar progress for its bottom line. Worldwide data management revenue is projected to grow at a decent double-digit-percentage rate for the next several years too, lifting Palantir Technologies' results with the rise.
It all sounds great. So why all of the hullabaloo online? Most of the chatter is actually positive stuff, with traders cheering the company's growth prospects.
Naysayers typically point to its outrageous valuation. Shares are trading at nearly 200 times this year's profit projection, and more than 24 times the company's trailing sales. That makes it a fairly easy target for value-minded influencers. This may be one of those names like Amazon was, however, where growth does more good than a frothy valuation does harm.
3. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
Finally, add Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM 0.63%) to your list of meme stocks that are more than the butt of a joke or a mere short-squeeze candidate.
This $550 billion behemoth is another richly valued name. But, stock trading communities discussing the company on Reddit, Twitter, and other online venues are buzzing about the fact that this company is in the right place at the right time.
As its moniker suggests, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing makes semiconductors. It's not of the same stature as powerhouses like Intel, nor as diverse as Texas Instruments. Its wares are an increasingly important part of the world's technology, however, like its wearables solutions. The company's SPOT platforms only require a fourth of the voltage needed for conventional circuitry to function, for example, allowing for new and better functioning wearables.
That being said, Taiwan Semiconductor is a hot pick at this time mostly because it's not just a beneficiary of chip shortage (a source of memes in itself), but an escalating battle for data center supremacy among major chipmaking names. Advanced Micro Devices just tapped the company to manufacture its "Milan" data center processor, for instance, which is a jab at Intel's piece of that fast-growing market.
Newcomers are going to pay a steep price. The stock's trading in excess of 30 times earnings and nearly 12 times its sales. Both are valuations that make some investors nervous, and other investors downright bearish. With earnings projected to reach $3.97 this year, up from last year's $3.39 en route to $4.57 per share next year, the growth potential may be worth the cost.