There's little question that when the history of 2021 is written, one of its highlights will be how small retail investors took on the monied interests of Wall Street and many times won.
Never before in the more than 100 years of the stock market have the little guys been able to drive the price of stocks to such a degree to achieve their own ends. While a lot of the action centered around sketchy meme stocks, there were also quite a few established companies that hedge funds bet against only to get their heads handed to them by small investors.
Meme stocks tend to be those companies that seem to move in sync with online chatter and how much short-sellers bet against them, rather than on the fundamentals driving their businesses.
Too often, Reddit traders simply back a stock because it's highly shorted, thinking it can be the next GameStop or AMC Entertainment and see its share price rise by 1,000% or more, merely because the so-called "smart money" is against it.
While the smart money is often very shrewd, it's not infallible. And many meme stocks will have horrible-looking financials, but still have solid futures. You can't know for certain, but these two meme stocks look like good long-term investments.
Alibaba Group Holding (NYSE:BABA) posted weak earnings, which caused Wall Street to wonder about its ability to keep growing, Meanwhile, Chineses e-commerce rival JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) is outstripping analyst expectations by recently putting up another quarter of solid numbers.
Annual active customers are running 25% higher than last year, hitting 552.2 million, and service revenue surged 43% to $5.1 billion. JD is also gaining traction in new markets like groceries and pharmacy, helping to diversify its business away from its core consumer electronics and appliances roots.
JD.com is also capitalizing on the trend of online-only retailers developing a physical retail presence. It expanded its brick-and-mortar footprint by opening JD Mall, a shopping mall in Xian, China, that joins the JD Super Experience store for consumer electronics that it opened in March. The retailer also operates 7Fresh, a high-end supermarket.
There is a concern that China's slowing economy could eventually weigh on e-commerce retailers (it's already having an impact on Alibaba). And with Beijing cracking down on businesses, particularly tech stocks, it could be a dicey time to consider investing in Chinese stocks. Still, JD has said it doesn't believe it has anything to be wary of, as its safety protocols for customer data are already stringent, and the controls regulators are contemplating could actually benefit its business.
Analysts forecast JD.com will be able to grow earnings at a compound rate of 27% annually, and with the stock trading at seven times next year's earnings and less than 20 times the free cash flow it produces, it's a stock worth holding on to for years to come.
2. Blink Charging
Electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure will receive a $7.5 billion jolt from the U.S. government's massive $1 trillion infrastructure spending program. The EV charging industry itself is set to reap a $5 billion windfall from the effort to expand the national charging network. Easing drivers' worries about having to go long distances between charges could put Blink Charging (NASDAQ:BLNK) back on track.
Blink was the first EV charging stock to go public in 2018 at $5 per share (ChargePoint Holdings, EVgo, and Volta all went public this year), and since then, it has risen by over 7,600%. Year to date, however, Blink's stock is down 10% and is 40% below the highs it hit back in February during the meme stock trading frenzy.
Despite the phenomenal run-up in its shares, there are considerable doubts about the company, including those expressed by Blink itself.
Although it has been in business for 11 years, it has never posted a profit. It has warned that it could go bankrupt, and short-sellers have bet big against its stock, citing in part its ties to a law firm that settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for pump-and-dump stock schemes. Blink had to issue an extraordinary letter to shareholders saying those persons were no longer involved with the company, though its association with them "has given Blink a negative perception, which we have long been trying to shed."
But Blink, which once had been the market leader in the industry, earlier this year saw its market share fall to just 4% of the Level 2 charging segment (Level 2 is a faster charge compared to Level 1 and allows for longer-distance driving).
So why (let alone how) should an investor bet on Blink Charging? Wall Street doesn't put much stock in the short-sellers' negative thesis and actually sees the charger company's business improving. Third-quarter results easily beat expectations, Blink is expanding its charging network, and it has a partnership deal with General Motors. And because of its longer-term position in the charging industry, it may benefit more than others from the tailwinds the infrastructure bill brings with it, likely beginning in the second half of 2022.
The stock is rated a buy not least because your average analyst forecasts that revenue will nearly double every year for the next five years. While the Street largely thinks it is fairly priced, renewed enthusiasm for EVs ought to juice its returns. For a small part of the higher-risk portion of your portfolio, Blink Charging could be a stock to buy and hold for the long haul.