Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

3 Stocks that Could Torpedo Your Portfolio

By Leo Sun - Updated Jun 7, 2021 at 4:55PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Altria and two other flawed stocks could offset your gains this year.

The S&P 500 is hovering near all-time highs, but many individual stocks have underperformed the market this year amid concerns about rising bond yields, inflation, and post-pandemic slowdowns in certain sectors.

In this fickle market, you should check your portfolio for any potential losers. Let's take a closer look at three wobbly stocks that might offset your gains this year: Altria (MO 0.04%), Under Armour (UA 1.80%) (UAA 1.83%), and ContextLogic (WISH 1.81%).

A child in a business suit holds a cutout of a declining chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Altria

Altria is the largest tobacco company in America. Its flagship brand, Marlboro, controls more than 40% of the country's retail cigarette market. It generates most of its revenue from cigarettes, but it also sells cigars, snus, e-cigarettes, heated tobacco products, nicotine pouches, and wine.

Altria might initially seem like a stable income stock. It pays a high forward yield of nearly 7%, it's raised that payout every year since it spun off its international business as Philip Morris International in 2008, and it trades at just ten times forward earnings.

Yet Altria's stock lost nearly a quarter of its value over the past five years. After factoring in reinvented dividends, it generated a total return of just 1% as the S&P 500 delivered a total return of 120%.

Altria underperformed the market because adult smoking rates in the U.S. are declining. To counter that secular decline, Altria raised prices, cut costs, and repurchased more shares to boost its EPS. Those strategies helped Altria tread water, but they're arguably unsustainable over the long term.

To stay relevant, Altria invested billions in the e-cigarette maker Juul and the cannabis company Cronos -- but the former caused big writedowns, and the latter hasn't generated any meaningful revenue yet.

The bulls believe Altria can eventually diversify its business away from cigarettes, but I'm not as optimistic. Investors should stick with dividend stocks with more balanced business models instead.

2. Under Armour

Under Armour's stock has risen about 30% this year as the athletic footwear and apparel maker's fundamentals have gradually improved after weathering the pandemic. But if we pull back the chart, we'll notice UA's stock has still lost nearly 40% of its value over the past five years.

UA was once called the "next Nike", but a series of missteps torpedoed its business. Its founder and former CEO Kevin Plank, who stepped down in 2019, expanded UA into fitness trackers and mobile apps, but couldn't keep pace with Nike and Adidas' direct-to-consumer expansion strategies.

The bankruptcy of Sports Authority in 2016 exacerbated that pressure by flooding wholesale channels with cheap UA products, and its flagship Curry shoes experienced diminishing returns. It broadly missed its three-year target of generating $7.5 billion in revenue by 2018, and its double-digit revenue growth decelerated to low single-digit levels as its core North American business withered.

Other mishaps -- including Plank's praise of former President Trump, reports of a toxic work environment, and an accounting scandal -- further tarnished UA's reputation with its customers and investors.

UA has taken some steps in the right direction over the past year. It boosted its gross margin by improving its supply chain and product mix, launched new high-end products, and stabilized its North American business. But I believe UA's challenges are far from over, especially as Nike and Adidas recover, and both classes of its stock still look expensive at more than 40 times forward earnings.

3. ContextLogic

ContextLogic, which operates a discount e-commerce marketplace Wish, went public at $24 per share last December. But the stock subsequently tumbled to about $8 as investors spotted three glaring problems.

First, Wish's revenue rose 34% in 2020, but it grew at a slower rate than that of bigger e-commerce companies like Amazon and Shopify. Analysts expect Wish's revenue to rise just 24% this year -- which makes it an underdog with decelerating growth in a saturated market.

Second, most of Wish's merchants are in China, which exposes it to rising tariffs and trade tensions. Its shoppers have also repeatedly complained about counterfeit goods, long shipping times, and difficult returns. Lastly, Wish is deeply unprofitable: its net losses widened in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, and analysts don't expect it to generate a profit anytime soon.

Wish serves more than 100 million monthly active users (MAUs) in over 100 countries, but its shoppers are spread too thinly worldwide. Its high logistics costs and overwhelming dependence on discounts and flash sales could also prevent it from narrowing its losses.

Wish trades at less than two times this year's sales, but that discount is deserved. Investors looking for a similar play with more growth potential should take a closer look at the Chinese discount e-commerce company Pinduoduo instead.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Leo Sun owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon, Nike, Shopify, Under Armour (A Shares), and Under Armour (C Shares). The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1,920 calls on Amazon, long January 2023 $1,140 calls on Shopify, short January 2022 $1,940 calls on Amazon, and short January 2023 $1,160 calls on Shopify. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

ContextLogic Inc. Stock Quote
ContextLogic Inc.
$1.69 (1.81%) $0.03
Altria Group, Inc. Stock Quote
Altria Group, Inc.
$45.15 (0.04%) $0.02
Under Armour, Inc. Stock Quote
Under Armour, Inc.
$10.03 (1.83%) $0.18, Inc. Stock Quote, Inc.
$143.55 (2.07%) $2.91
Philip Morris International Inc. Stock Quote
Philip Morris International Inc.
$99.24 (-0.23%) $0.23
NIKE, Inc. Stock Quote
NIKE, Inc.
$116.07 (1.73%) $1.97
adidas AG Stock Quote
adidas AG
$89.52 (1.00%) $0.89
Shopify Inc. Stock Quote
Shopify Inc.
$40.76 (0.84%) $0.34
Under Armour, Inc. Stock Quote
Under Armour, Inc.
$9.05 (1.80%) $0.16
Cronos Group Stock Quote
Cronos Group
$3.17 (3.93%) $0.12
Pinduoduo Stock Quote
$48.80 (-1.65%) $0.82

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

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/14/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.