7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (2024)

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With the major equity indices printing some lackluster performances recently, the concept of contrarian stocks to buy might hit a bit differently now. Basically, with so many ideas printing red ink – and with analysts bashing that seemingly at every turn – a sudden reversal could yield tremendous profits.

At the same time, you’ve got to understand one thing about contrarian stocks. Usually, when publicly traded securities fall sharply, they do so for a reason. And that’s typically not for a good one. Plus, there’s no law that states badly hurting enterprises must swing up. No, they can continue downward on the road to perdition.Still, by carefully choosing certain ideas over others, one could see a substantial reward for their intrepidness. Below are contrarian stocks to buy – but only if you dare!

American States Water (AWR)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (1)

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Right off the bat, investors recognize that American States Water (NYSE:AWR) presents a high-risk endeavor. Since the beginning of this year, shares slipped almost 18%. And in the trailing month, they gave up nearly 9% of its equity value. Not only that, not a single Wall Street analyst wants to issue a buy rating on AWR stock. Instead, it’s a moderate sell consensus.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that everything is fine with American States Water. For example, its three-year revenue growth rate sits at only 1.2%, below 81% of its peers. And it also trades at a staggering 26x forward earnings, well above the sector median of 13.94x. At the same time, it is a utility and utilities feature consistent profitability, which is the case with AWR.

Also, what’s interesting is that American States Water Director Thomas A. Eichelberger bought 1,000 shares of AWR on Aug. 31. Plus, while the options market seems to show hedging behavior given the heightened implied volatility (IV) for out-of-money (OTM) puts, the IV is similarly heightened for far OTM calls. So, it could be one of the contrarian stocks to buy.

Seer (SEER)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (2)

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Based in Redwood City, California, Seer (NASDAQ:SEER) seems like a relevant idea. Since the January opener, SEER lost almost 63% of equity value. In the trailing one-month period, SEER slipped more than 12%.Adding to the woes for the medical products manufacturer is the analysts consensus. With a view of moderate sell, Seer suffers a credibility challenge in gaining new investors. Also, not a single analyst has bothered to assign a buy rating, which obviously hurts.

Looking at the financials, it features some positives, most notably a triple-digit three-year revenue growth rate. However, sustainability is the issue. Among the five warning signs that investment data aggregator Gurufocus identified, building inventory levels and an Altman Z-Score in the distressed zone stand out.

Nevertheless, on Aug. 23, Seer’s chief executive bought 40,000 shares of SEER. Such a significant vote of confidence could be a sign that it’s one of the contrarian stocks to buy.

iHeartMedia (IHRT)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (3)

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A powerhouse brand in the broader entertainment landscape, iHeartMedia (NASDAQ:IHRT) should be a relevant enterprise. Unfortunately, the shifting sands in the industry has imposed a credibility crisis for the company. Since the start of the year, IHRT suffered a loss of more than 44%. In the trailing one-month period, the security tanked over 58%.Pouring salt on wounds, the analyst assessment for IHRT comes in at a moderate sell. What’s worse is that we have five expert voices and not a single one said it’s a buy. Instead, we’re talking three holds and two sell. Also, the average price target of $4.20 only implies 26% upside, which hardly seems a great reward for one of the possible contrarian stocks.

Looking at its financials, iHeartMedia suffers from a poor balance sheet and a long-term book growth rate in the negative. Also, Gurufocus warns readers that it’s a possible value trap. Ouch.However, insiders are very bullish on IHRT, including the CEO. In fact, all of the insider transactions this year have been buys.

Farmers & Merchants Bancorp (FMAO)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (4)

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As a regional bank, it’s easy to be skeptical about Farmers & Merchants Bancorp (NASDAQ:FMAO). With all due respect, I don’t think too many folks know about Farmers & Merchants. More critically, earlier this year, the regional banking crisis really did a number on sentiment. In FMAO’s case, the security slipped more than 32% since the January opener.

Unsurprisingly, only one analyst in the past three months – Piper Sandler’s Brendan Nosal – has covered FMAO. And of course, the rating is a “moderate sell.” Even if we extended FMAO’s coverage to one year ago, the only two other analyst that assessed FMAO rated shares a hold. So, that’s not exactly encouraging no matter how you cut it.

However, it’s also possible that Farmers & Merchants may deserve the benefit of the doubt. For example, its three-year revenue growth rate comes in at 9.9%, above 68.26% of the banking industry. Also, insiders seem very bullish on FMAO. Since June of last year, all the insider transactions have been buys. Thus, it could be one of the contrarian stocks to buy.

SecureWorks (SCWX)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (5)

Source: Shutterstock

A cybersecurity specialist, SecureWorks (NASDAQ:SCWX) seems an incredibly relevant enterprise. After all, cybercrimes are only rising in scope and scale. Further, post-pandemic transitions such as a remote, decentralized workforce adds a greater canvas of vulnerability. However, since the start of the year, SCWX lost almost 5% of equity value. In the past six months, it’s down nearly 28%.

Now, much of this stems from what investors considered disappointing earnings results for the first and second quarters. Over the trailing one-year period, SCWX fell in the red to the tune of almost 27%. Worse yet, SCWX sits as a unanimous moderate sell, with the only two covering experts giving it a thumbs down. That rejection hurts.

To be fair, SecureWorks has a solid balance sheet, particularly a cash-to-debt ratio of 6.58x that’s above 61.66% of rivals. However, the other key financial metrics, such as negative revenue “growth” and sub-zero operating and net margins pose distractions.But the saving grace for SecureWorks is the insider transactions. Since at least March 29 of this year, all insider transactions have been buys. Thus, SCWX could be one of the contrarian stocks to consider.

Embecta (EMBC)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (6)

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A medical equipment specialist focusing on diabetes care, Embecta (NASDAQ:EMBC) would appear a prudent investment. After all, diabetes is a serious chronic condition where demand for care management runs high. Sadly, investors don’t view the narrative that way, with EMBC tanking almost 40% since the January opener. In the past one-year period, EMBC lost nearly 49% of equity value.

Adding to the pressure, Embecta gets no love from Wall Street analysts, how rate it a consensus moderate sell. Not a single expert gave it a buy rating. Instead, we’re talking one hold and two sells. The average price target of $20.50 – implying roughly 35% upside – is just an afterthought at this point.

Looking at the financials, it’s not difficult to see why investors are skeptical. For example, its three-year revenue growth rate sits at only 0.3%. Also, its EBIDTA growth rate during the same period is 14.9% in the red.Nevertheless, there’s an outside shot of EMBC being one of the potential contrarian stocks. While Embecta doesn’t have an extensive history, all the insider transactions are buys.

Beyond Meat (BYND)

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (7)

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One of the most popular investment ideas during the pre-pandemic period, Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) initially swung higher on its debut thanks to the underlying business. Leveraging its plant-based meat products, it took aim at a young consumer base eager for healthier food alternatives. Still, with the company struggling to compete against enterprises with far superior economies of scale, BYND fell sharply.

Since the January opener, BYND is down more than 26%. In the past 365 days, it lost over 40%. Adding to its woes, analysts peg shares as a moderate sell. Unsurprisingly, no one issued a buy rating. What’s worse, among the nine total experts, six of them said Beyond Meat was a sell. That’s just awful.

One of the critical vulnerabilities – among several to be honest – is the negative margins. When even the gross margin is down nearly 3% below zero, that’s a massive risk. And insiders are basically just dumping shares.Still, apparently an institutional investor sold 600 contracts of the Jan 19 ’24 45.00 Put, collecting a $1.78 million premium. In my opinion, that’s aggressively bullish, which is why BYND could be one of the contrarian stocks to buy.

On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.comPublishing Guidelines.

A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare. Tweet him at @EnomotoMedia.

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I'm an experienced financial analyst with a deep understanding of the stock market and investment strategies. Over the years, I've closely monitored various sectors and companies, analyzing their financial performance, market trends, and insider activities. My goal is to provide valuable insights to investors seeking profitable opportunities in the stock market.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about contrarian stocks to buy. The author highlights stocks that have experienced recent declines but might present opportunities for contrarian investors. Here's an overview of each mentioned stock:

  1. American States Water (AWR):

    • Recent Performance: Shares slipped almost 18% since the beginning of the year.
    • Financials: Three-year revenue growth rate at 1.2%, trades at 26x forward earnings.
    • Insider Activity: Director Thomas A. Eichelberger bought 1,000 shares on Aug. 31.
  2. Seer (SEER):

    • Recent Performance: Lost almost 63% of equity value since January.
    • Financials: Triple-digit three-year revenue growth rate, but sustainability is questioned.
    • Insider Activity: CEO bought 40,000 shares on Aug. 23.
  3. iHeartMedia (IHRT):

    • Recent Performance: Suffered a loss of more than 44% since the start of the year.
    • Financials: Poor balance sheet, long-term book growth rate in the negative.
    • Insider Activity: All insider transactions this year have been buys.
  4. Farmers & Merchants Bancorp (FMAO):

    • Recent Performance: Slipped more than 32% since the January opener.
    • Financials: Three-year revenue growth rate at 9.9%, insiders bullish on FMAO.
  5. SecureWorks (SCWX):

    • Recent Performance: Lost almost 5% of equity value since the start of the year.
    • Financials: Solid balance sheet, but negative revenue growth and sub-zero margins.
    • Insider Activity: All insider transactions since March 29 have been buys.
  6. Embecta (EMBC):

    • Recent Performance: Tanked almost 40% since January.
    • Financials: Three-year revenue growth rate at only 0.3%, insiders are buying.
  7. Beyond Meat (BYND):

    • Recent Performance: Down more than 26% since January.
    • Financials: Negative margins, insiders dumping shares, but institutional activity noted.

These stocks are presented as potential contrarian opportunities, with the article emphasizing the importance of careful selection based on financials, insider activity, and recent performance. As with any investment, thorough research and risk assessment are crucial.

7 Contrarian Stocks to Buy for the High-Stakes Gambler (2024)


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