- GameStop lived up to my prediction on tumbling the day after reporting quarterly results, something that has now happened in 10 of the past 11 reports. The video game retailer plummeted 27% on Thursday, but it moved nicely higher the other four days of the week -- trimming its weeklong decline to just 6%.
- AMC closed out the week with a 3% gain, following the 83% burst higher the week before. The multiplex operator is benefiting from a surge in box office receipts, but they continue to track at less than half of where the industry was two years ago.
- Finally we have Carnival sinking 2% for the week. Cruise stocks have been buoyant ahead of a return to sailing this month, but we're already seeing COVID-19 cases pop up in the limited number of voyages taking place so far.
Those three stocks averaged a 1.7% decline for the week. The S&P 500 rose by 0.4% in that time, so I won. Right now, I see Royal Caribbean (RCL 1.02%), AMC Entertainment Holdings, and Osprey Bitcoin Trust (OBTC 4.21%) as vulnerable investments in the near term. Here's why I think these are three stocks to avoid this week.
1. Royal Caribbean
This was supposed to be the summer that the cruise industry finally roars back into being, but we're already seeing some choppy waters. Royal Caribbean's Celebrity Millennium became the first major cruise ship available to North American seafarers earlier this month since the industry shut down last March. A few days into the maiden voyage, a pair of passengers contracted the COVID-19 virus.
There's also an operational standoff in Royal Caribbean's home state of Florida, where the governor is threatening to fine cruise lines for requiring vaccinations of its passengers. It's a Catch-22 for the industry, as the CDC requires at least 95% of a ship's passengers to be fully vaccinated to resume sailings without having to go through a series of costly test cruises.
Royal Caribbean is my favorite of the three cruise lines as an investment, but it's also held up the best during the lull. With the reopening off to a bumpy start it also makes the stock vulnerable here.
2. AMC Entertainment
I'm a fan of a lot that AMC Entertainment has done to get bet better at a time when many of its smaller rivals have been merely walking in place. The country's largest multiplex operator has upped its seat reservations and mobile order tech and carved out a new revenue stream with actively promoted private rentals. The new Investor Connect program is sheer genius, monetizing its newborn attention as a meme stock with millions of retail investors by trying to convert them into customers.
However, after ballooning its share count north of 500 million -- and the stock still moving higher -- there will eventually be a price to be paid in terms of valuation. AMC Entertainment enters this week with an enterprise value above $35 billion, and sooner or later someone is going to have to pay the tab at the end of the party.
AMC is doing the right things to stay on top of a declining industry, but it's not enough to justify today's sticker price. This has historically been a low-margin business -- in the low single digits for net margin most years -- despite the markup on concessions. You'll see a year-over-year bounce this year, but we may never return to 2019 as a baseline. Theatrical release windows are being shattered by streaming initiatives. AMC has bloated its debt levels and share count to stay alive, but all of this comes at a price that right now seems too dear to pay.
3. Osprey Bitcoin Trust
I believe in keeping a small percent of your risk-tolerant portfolio in crypto, but not every vehicle is in the same boat. Osprey Bitcoin Trust offers investors a low-cost way to play the popularity of Bitcoin (BTC 2.21%) in a stock exchange-listed vehicle.
Osprey Bitcoin Trust is a lot smaller than the market's original Bitcoin-owning trust, and it's also trading at an unsustainable premium. Osprey's mark-up to its stake of Bitcoin tokens has been contracting since hitting the market earlier this year, and I was starting to get interested when the premium narrowed to 12% a week ago.
The mark-up is going the wrong way again. Osprey Bitcoin Trust owns what is currently $12.68 in Bitcoin, but it closed last week at $14.95. Is an 18% premium worth it when the much larger -- but admittedly more high-cost -- Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC 0.99%) is fetching an 11% discount to its net asset value?
If you're looking for safe stocks, you aren't likely to find them in Royal Caribbean, AMC Entertainment, and Osprey Bitcoin Trust this week.