If there's one constant in the stock market, it's that there's always something new to see.
Last year, investors navigated their way through a once-in-a-century pandemic, which led to one of the steepest bear market declines in history for the S&P 500. Meanwhile, 2021 has been all about realizing the power of retail investors.
Over the past two months, retail investors on Reddit's WallStreetBets chatroom have banded together to fight back against institutional investors and hedge funds. These predominantly younger investors have done this buy purchasing stock and out-of-the-money call options on companies with high levels of short interest. The goal of these retail investors has been to create a short squeeze, which sends short-sellers scurrying for the exit as targeted stocks shoot "to the moon," as the Reddit crowd would say.
You're asking for trouble if you buy these Reddit stocks
Among the dozens of stocks the Reddit crowd has fancied, there's little question that video game and accessories retailer GameStop (GME -12.19%) and Canadian licensed cannabis producer Sundial Growers (SNDL -5.23%) are two of the most-followed and owned. GameStop was the most short-sold stock in late January, relative to its float, while Sundial Growers is both a penny stock and heavily short-sold, which acts as twice the lure for young investors.
The problem is that neither company is particularly appealing from an investment perspective -- and that's putting things nicely.
Take GameStop, which managed to more than quadruple its e-commerce sales during the 2020 holiday season, but still saw total sales shrink by 3%. GameStop's only solution to it tardiness in focusing on digital gaming is to continue closing down its physical stores. By closing stores, the hope is that GameStop can lower its expenses enough to back its way into the profit column.
As for Sundial, its biggest flaw is the more than $600 million in cash it raised. Despite cleaning up its balance sheet, the company issued approximately 1.15 billion shares in a matter of five months. That's some of the worst dilution I've ever witnessed in more than 20 years of following the market. To boot, Sundial is nowhere near profitability at a time when most marijuana stocks are preparing to turn the corner to recurring green.
Forget Sundial and GameStop: These companies will triple your money
Instead of getting pulled into these Reddit traps, my suggestion would be to forget all about GameStop and Sundial Growers and buy the following three growth stocks if you're really interested in tripling your money.
Cybersecurity should be one of the most surefire growth industries of the decade. We were already seeing businesses shift online and into the cloud well before the pandemic struck. The coronavirus simply provided that kick in the behind needed to accelerate this transformation. As businesses move more of their proprietary information into the cloud, the onus of protecting this data should increasingly fall on third-party providers like Okta (OKTA 0.26%).
Okta's specialty is in providing identity authentication. The company utilizes a suite of cloud-native solutions that rely on artificial intelligence to protect clients' data. In other words, Okta's solutions are growing smarter all the time at identifying and responding to potential threats. And since the platform isn't designed as a one-size-fits-all, Okta is able to offer new solutions to its customers as they scale. This ability to upsell its clients to new product is what's going to make Okta a cybersecurity juggernaut.
Also of interest is Okta's recent announcement that it would be acquiring chief rival Auth0 for $6.5 billion in an all-stock deal. Even though Auth0 will retain its independence as a brand, it'll be operating under Okta umbrella. Auth0 should be particularly helpful in expanding Okta's reach beyond the borders of the U.S. and into Europe. This acquisition should further ignite the company's red-hot growth prospects.
Northern Star Acquisition
Most people probably aren't familiar with the name Northern Star Acquisition (STIC). That's because it's a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC), and those seem to be a dime a dozen lately. However, Northern Star has announced its merger partner -- dog-focused product and service company BarkBox -- and is expected to close on the deal during the second quarter.
How impressive is BarkBox? The company, which delivers toys and a host of other themed products on a monthly basis, ended the fiscal third quarter with approximately 1.1 million subscribers. That's up from the 663,000 subscribers it ended with in fiscal 2020. It's also worth pointing out that the product retention rate is close to 95%, which is the highest it's been since the company's inception.
As with most subscription-based models, BarkBox is looking at a juicy gross margin of right around 60%, and it's on track to more than double its revenue by 2023 to north of $700 million. Considering that we haven't seen a decline in year-over-year U.S. pet expenditures in at least a quarter of a century, it's a solid bet that BarkBox's core service and new products (BarkBox Eats, Bark Home, and Bark Bright) will drive Northern Star Acquisition (soon to be BarkBox) a lot higher.
I don't fault retail investors for being interested in marijuana stocks. Cannabis should be one of the fastest-growing industries this decade. But there's no question that U.S. pot stocks are where the real money is to be made. If investors want a growth stock that'll triple their money, Jushi Holdings (JUSHF -7.14%) is the name to buy.
Jushi has taken an aggressive -- yet incredibly safe -- path to growth. The company's core focus is on three states: Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Virginia. The former two limit the number of retail licenses that they'll issue, while Virginia assigns dispensary licenses based on jurisdiction. The point being that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% (or more) of Jushi's sales in 2021 will be derived from markets where it'll face minimal or nonexistent competition. By targeting limited license states, Jushi is ensuring that its brand has the best possible chance of being successfully built from the ground up.
Jushi has also shown a willingness to make acquisitions to expand its footprint. Just since the year began, the company acquired an operating dispensary and license holder in California, and became a 100% equity owner of Pennsylvania dispensary permittee Agape Total Health Care. Jushi is flush with cash and has received roughly $45 million in capital from its management team and insiders since inception. When execs have skin the game, good things usually happen for shareholders.