It's been anything but a banner year for the broad market. But veteran investors know the 21% setback the S&P 500 has suffered in 2022 so far is ultimately a buying opportunity -- stocks will eventually recover.

Simply stepping into the market's most beaten-down names when the notion strikes you, however, isn't exactly a solid strategy. The worst-of-the-worst performers are often leading the bearish charge for a reason and could continue to struggle even if the broad market turns bullish. Take the S&P 500's three worst-performing stocks of 2022 as an example.

Worst of the worst

As of the Oct. 5 close, the S&P 500's biggest year-to-date losers are Match Group (MTCH 0.44%), Carnival (CCL 3.70%), and Align Technology (ALGN 4.04%). Shares of dating app giant Match as well as Carnival are both down 61%, while orthodontics outfit Align has shed 65%. Yikes.

Carnival's weakness isn't a tough one to figure out. While travel restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have largely been lifted, and the company is easing its own protocols meant to protect passengers, the cruise industry itself is far from firing on all cylinders. Carnival's fiscal third-quarter top and bottom lines both missed estimates with discounting keeping the company well in the red. Guidance for the quarter currently underway is also anything but thrilling with the company calling for another loss.

Match Group's steep sell-off is a bit trickier to peg. While dating apps are seemingly marketable in almost any environment -- and Match has the growth to prove it -- the already-overvalued stock was pushed even deeper into premium territory in the throes of the pandemic. This pullback is mostly a correction of that overheated climb.

As for Align, it too was a victim of the coronavirus contagion. Like cruises, though, lockdowns and complicated protocols meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 are easing for dental offices as well. Office visits just aren't quite back to pre-pandemic levels, though, particularly in China where Beijing is still enforcing a "zero-COVID" policy.

This matters, because nearly half of the company's usual revenue is generated outside the United States with China accounting for a big chunk of those sales. Moreover, the sky-high value of the U.S. dollar directly shaved off $40 million from Align's second-quarter sales and is indirectly making its dental braces tech more difficult for overseas buyers to afford.

Still too soon to step in

None of these challenges are insurmountable or permanent, but they are apt to remain in place for the foreseeable future -- far too long to be in a hurry to buy these stocks.

Take Align. Even if China's lockdown measures are dialed back, it won't necessarily drive the inordinately high value of the U.S. dollar any lower. That's mostly a function of the underlying nation's (the United States, in this case) inflation and interest rates. With domestic interest rates and inflationary pressure greater here than in most other parts of the world, don't look for the greenback to weaken meaningfully anytime soon.

Then, there's the specter of a full-blown recession, here and abroad. Given the elective nature of orthodontics, that too could prove a problem for Align.

Ditto for Carnival -- consumers tend to vacation more conservatively when money is tight or the job market is uncertain. And it could be months until it's clear the worldwide economy is on a firmer footing.

Match Group -- owner of dating apps like Tinder, Match, and Our Time -- is better positioned for such an economic headwind. Finding love never really goes out of style, after all, and all of its premium services are relatively affordable.

Nevertheless, the online dating market is starting to look and feel rather saturated with the industry's era of strong double-digit growth now in the rearview mirror. Sales for the three-month stretch ended in June were up a modest 12% on a year-over-year basis, while operating costs soared 62%. Product development spending alone jumped 66%. If this is a glimpse of the new norm, investors are still understandably worried and now rethinking the premium valuation this stock has typically sported.

The bigger picture

The moral of the story is, there's always more to the story. You should shop around for quality names when they're beaten down for all the wrong (and temporary) reasons. But not all beaten-down stocks are more attractive prospects simply because their prices are dramatically reduced.

These three stocks may be much cheaper than they were last year, but their sell-offs are a calculated decision from the masses, serving as a warning of bigger-picture challenges that won't be easy to push through.