As financial markets enter the final month of the year, investors are focused on the one ahead. Eyes are on the Federal Reserve as investors analyze if and when markets will rebound in 2023. Positive indicators hint that a new bull market is on the way. With this in mind, investors should be carefully analyzing the best stocks to buy before they rebound. However, they should also be considering the best stocks to sell. This year, the list of companies to offload before they fall even further avoids former high-growth winners and meme stocks. But it’s also worth taking a look at a category that makes some investors especially nervous: penny stocks.
Some penny stocks have seen some good news recently. Micro-mobility innovator Helibiz (NASDAQ:HLBZ) subsidiary Wheels recently completed a major platform integration with Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Maps. Yet Helibiz also announced a 15% workforce reduction late last month.
Things aren’t looking so good for some of its small and micro-cap peers. Most penny stocks have been highly volatile this year. Some of the names that have seen shares rise have been pushed up by meme stock mentality. This doesn’t mean that they have any real value to add to a portfolio. Investors should focus on penny stocks to sell before already unstable companies go from bad to worse. There are plenty of names that investors should either sell while they still can or avoid entirely.
Let’s take a closer look at the penny stocks that no one should touch with a ten-foot pole.
Penny Stocks to Sell: AMC Preferred Equity Units (APE)
It’s time for AMC Entertainment (NYSE:AMC) to admit that its dividend experiment has been a bust. The movie theater chain released AMC Preferred Equity Units (NYSE:APE) in August 2022 as a means of alleviating some of its debt. A quick look at APE stock’s performance reveals how much it hasn’t worked. The dividend trades at less than $1 per share and has shed more than 83% of its value over the past six months. Experts assumed it would trade at more or less the same levels as AMC stock but while the former has been rising throughout the past month, the latter has been sinking.
This type of price divergence is exactly what investors don’t want to see and it should send them running. While AMC stock’s recent performance has been somewhat encouraging, APE’s has not. AMC CEO Adam Aran recently discussed the possibility of a reverse stock split for APE. While that has helped other stocks in the past, APE has reached the point of no return. Even while AMC has traded well, APE has been unable to pick up any momentum and has only dragged the company down. Even the dedicated “Ape Investor Army” that powered AMC to meme stock status in 2021 won’t be in a hurry to pick up more shares of APE.
AppHarvest (APPH) and Kasala (KAL)
This company is fairly unique as far as penny stocks to sell go. AppHarvest (NASDAQ:APPH) and Kalera (NASDAQ:KAL) both operate in the indoor food production space, otherwise known as vertical farming. While the sector is growing fast and has plenty of potential, APPH has been one of its worst performers all year. Larger competitors such as Village Farms International (NASDAQ:VFF) and Hydrofarm Holdings (NASDAQ:HYFM) have been rising steadily all month, while AppHarvest has been trending downward.
The company is poised to end a highly volatile year deeply in the red with year-to-date losses of almost 80% as of this writing. Kalera’s performance has been even more volatile and strange. Shares have jumped almost 80% in the past month but prices haven’t risen above $0.13 per share. And even with those gains, it remains in the red by 99% for the past six months.
It’s also worth noting that some of APPH’s growth in March 2022 was driven by high short interest. Since then, the stock has lost its status as a likely short-squeeze candidate and its growth is overshadowed by larger, more dynamic competitors. Even Local Bounti (NYSE:LOCL), a fellow microcap vertical farming stock has outperformed AppHarvest since it received a sizable investment from Charles Schwab. Both AppHarvest and Kalera need catalysts of that magnitude to start rising again and it hasn’t seen one in months. Both stocks demonstrated a clear inability to compete with their more stable peers even as their industry booms.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY)
Since its iconic surge in August 2022, Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) has done nothing but fall. That might be because the business is struggling and showing no signs of improvement. As InvestorPlace assistant financial news writer Eddie Pan notes, it recently traded at a 52-week low. On top of that, competition from similar big box retailers is rising and Bed Bath isn’t doing enough to meet it. While the stock has rebounded after a disappointing Black Friday, it remains in the red for the month after displaying considerable volatility. Nothing about the company’s performance since August has been encouraging. Investors’ patience with Bed Bath’s leadership to usher in a turnaround ran out months ago.
Whichever way we spin it, it’s clear that Bed Bath & Beyond is done. The fact that it’s rising right now makes it an ideal time to sell. This positive momentum could change course at any moment. Some experts have described BBBY stock as a value trap while others just see its negative financials as reason enough to jump ship. Adding to the mix is the class action lawsuit that Bed Bath & Beyond is facing following Ryan Cohen’s questionable actions that led to the August crash. Even if it blows over, BBBY stock will still be too risky of an investment.
It’s no secret that this is not a good time to be holding crypto stocks. Ever since the collapse of FTX and the downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried, crypto markets have been highly unstable. That makes for a frightening economic landscape for everyone in the crypto space. For a microcap penny stock that deals in crypto mining, things look especially grim, Bitfarms (NASDAQ:BITF) describes itself as a “global vertically integrated Bitcoin mining operation.” But the company has been in steep decline since long before the FTX scandal sent crypto in free fall. BITF has fallen more than 70% over the past six months but that pales in comparison to its 90% YTD declines.
A Bitcoin (BTC-USD) mining company’s success is tied to the strength of Bitcoin. And right now, Bitcoin is struggling to overcome the negative momentum surrounding crypto markets. It isn’t helping that two European central banks have issued bearish forecasts for the crypto, making for a tougher road back to the top. While Bitcoin may recover, Bitfarms is unlikely to. It failed to demonstrate any sustainable growth when Bitcoin was trading at much higher levels. Now that the crypto around which it was built is facing an uncertain future, the company has no path forward.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Bird Global (BRDS)
The rise of micro-mobility has been a defining market trend throughout the past few years. Companies have bet big on America’s need for last-mile solutions to make their daily commutes easier. While some startups have found ways to adapt and continue growing, Bird Global (NYSE:BRDS) is not one of them. The company is credited as a pioneer in the electronic scooter industry but it didn’t remain at the top for long. As InvestorPlace Ian Bezek notes:
“Bird has struggled to turn its vision into meaningful profits. It seems the company over-expanded, moving into second-tier markets instead of simply focusing on areas with the most promise.”
That’s just where the trouble starts for Bird. In November 2022, the company admitted that it had spent the past two years overstating its revenue. It accomplished this by recognizing customer rides that had not been paid for. Since then, Bird has warned that it may be facing bankruptcy within the coming year unless it can increase its cash flow. Given its recent history, the company isn’t likely to find new investors willing to bet on it. While competitors like Helibiz are finding ways to grow, Bird has shown investors why they should focus on more stable companies.
Blue Apron Holdings (APRN)
A popular meme stock, Blue Apron Holdings (NYSE:APRN) has remained in focus throughout 2022 due primarily to high short interest. Therein lies the problem. Attention from short sellers doesn’t instantly make a stock a good buy, especially when the company has nothing else to recommend it. This meal kit company has never been able to come even remotely close to its 2017 highs of more than $140 per share. Today it trades at just below $1, down more than 99% from where it once was. Even during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns 2020 when Americans were forced to stay inside, a company that sells convenient meal prep kits couldn’t find any real momentum.
As Eddie Pan reports, Blue Apron comes with both questionable financials and high customer concentration risk. The company’s dwindling cash reserves raise some significant doubts regarding its ability to continue operations, let alone scale them. Between the mounting economic headwinds facing Blue Apron and the fact that it may not have enough cash to make it through 2023, it is a clear choice for penny stocks to sell. The company has proven unable to adapt and grow in even favorable market conditions. In an unfavorable market, it has no chance of a turnaround.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Clovis Oncology (CLVS)
Investors need to be careful not to be fooled by this meme stock’s latest news. Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ:CLVS) recently reported that it will be filing for bankruptcy in the “very near” future. That headline may excite some meme stock investors, who remember when a bankruptcy warning turned Revlon (NYSE:REV) into a short squeeze favorite. Since then, every time a meme stock has floated bankruptcy as a possibility, the r/WallStreetBets crowd has gotten excited. However, that doesn’t mean that this is the time to load up on CLVS. It is time to look past the meme stock hype and do the opposite.
Two weeks ago, Clovis hinted at a possible bankruptcy and shares popped. But CLVS fell more than 13% in response to the more recent announcement. Investors should be more concerned with the fact that shares plunged more than 70% in early November when the company reported that it didn’t have enough cash to last through January 2023. Everything about Clovis suggests that it is a stock to sell before a Chapter 11 filing pushes it down even further. Anyone who still thinks it could be destined for a Revlon-esque squeeze play should remember that the recent bankruptcy news has generated no momentum on r/WallStreetBets or anywhere else.
Clover Health Investments (CLOV)
Like the similarly named stock above, Clover Health (NASDAQ:CLOV) is a former meme stock that anyone still holding should unload. The health insurance company finished 2020 at an all-time high of more than $16 per share. Since then, it has lost more than 90% of its value, unable to stay elevated for long. 2022 has been a disappointing year, with CLOV falling 50% over the past six months. While the company reported improvements in its Insurance Medical Care Ratio, it hasn’t been enough to generate any real growth. The stock has popped multiple times this year but each time, it has fallen again just as quickly. As InvestorPlace contributor Thomas Niel reports:
“With revenue growth expected to decelerate from triple-digit levels to slightly negative next year, Clover’s path to profitability remains murky at best. While the company may have enough cash to keep the lights on, barring a sharp swing from negative to positive earnings, CLOV stock could certainly remain at depressed prices for some time.”
All evidence points toward Clover Health falling even further in the coming year. Declining revenue projections and murky financials make a clear choice for stocks to sell before market conditions push it below the $1 mark and the bankruptcy rumors start to rise.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Douglas Elliman (DOUG)
Housing market volatility has made 2022 a highly turbulent year for real estate stocks. Douglas Elliman (NYSE:DOUG) knows this all too well. The real estate company is currently down 67% for the year and nothing hints that a turnaround is likely. Despite being one of the highest-priced stocks on this list, at about $4, it has given investors no cause for optimism this year. This isn’t helped by the bleak outlook clouding the housing market. As InvestorPlace contributor Chris MacDonald reports, most statistical indicators make it clear that it will not bounce back in 2023.
This vast uncertainty makes it hard to bet on real estate stocks, especially when many experts expect its problems to continue. InvestorPlace assistant financial news writer Shrey Dua notes that: “Looking ahead, the future of housing remains at the whim of greater macroeconomic forces.” That also applies to the other companies in the real estate space. These macroeconomic headwinds haven’t favored Douglas Elliman so far and that isn’t likely to shift. Investors should jump ship now to avoid further losses.
Many retailers are about to get a bump as America descends into the holiday season. That doesn’t mean all fashion stocks are buys, though. Express (NYSE:EXPR) is poised to finish out a very difficult year in the red, not the green. The retailer peddles trendy fashion items to Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers, often those with money to spend. But this year, the combination of an unstable economy and the uncertainty spurred by rising inflation have created a market that doesn’t favor companies like Express. While the retailer sells expensive items, it doesn’t have the name-brand power of companies like Abercrombie & Fitch (NYSE:ANF) or Ralph Lauren (NYSE:RL). It’s no coincidence that both stocks have been rising over the past six months while EXPR has fallen 50%.
This makes Express a clear value trap, a notion that Gurufocus has also flagged. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that the company’s financials are far from stable. A highly-leveraged business, Express has to manage its merchandise very carefully. That’s not ideal in an economy where supply chain problems are still constraining retailers. As InvestorPlace contributor Muslim Farooque notes, vendors are becoming increasingly restrictive with the financing terms they offer. This trend could prove dangerous for a company like Express in the coming year.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Hycroft Mining (HYMC)
Gold may be a smart portfolio hedge but that doesn’t mean that all gold stocks are worth buying. Hycroft Mining (NASDAQ:HYMC) began attracting attention in March 2022 when AMC made a sizable investment in it. This move baffled plenty of experts but it didn’t keep HYMC in the green for long. While the stock surged late in March on a new fundraising offer, it would begin falling again just as quickly and spend the rest of the year trending downward. As InvestorPlace contributor Faizan Farooque correctly predicted, the deal has not ended up benefitting either company.
Months later, AMC looks questionable but Hycroft has completely disappointed shareholders. When key investor Eric Sprott began cashing out of HYMC, Farooque advised others to do the same. That proved to be good advice, as the stock has fallen 45% since then and shown no growth prospects. In October 2022, the company revealed a delisting notice after failing to remain above the Nasdaq’s $1 listing requirement. HYMC hasn’t made it back to the $1 mark since then or even come close. Unless it can regain compliance by April 3, 2023, the stock will be axed from the index. No indicators suggest that it can get there.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many investors had high hopes for this biotech firm. iBio (NYSEAMERICAN:IBIO) dazzled investors with talk of a groundbreaking vaccine that would have placed it on the same level as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA). Years later, as markets prepare to enter 2023, it’s clear that iBio could never hold its own with the leaders of the big pharma sector. The company has spent the year in a steep, consistent decline, shedding more than 90% of its value since 2022 began.
Any random growth spurts IBIO has seen have been due to high short interest. In October 2022, it ranked among the top stocks on Fintel’s Short Squeeze Leaderboard. Since then, iBio has fallen considerably, currently sitting at number 30 on the list. Put another way, it has lost the only thing that helped it rise this year. Now not only has iBio abandoned its Covid-19 vaccine, but its current lead drug also won’t generate any revenue for years to come. That’s the best-case scenario for iBio’s future. This company has given investors no reason to stay behind it. But it has provided more than enough reason to jump ship before it sinks even more.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Ideanomics (IDEX), Lordstown Motors (RIDE), Nikola (NKLA), Workhorse Group (WKHS)
InvestorPlace senior investment analyst Luke Lango predicts that the electric vehicle (EV) market is headed for a massive consolidation. That means investors need to be smart about picking EV stocks that will still exist in the coming years. While surging EV demand sent some automakers to new heights in 2022, not every company displayed growth potential. Ideanomics (NASDAQ:IDEX) hasn’t traded above $1 per share since April 2022 but even before that, it was in a state of perpetual decline. The company has a footing in many sub-sectors of the green energy field, including transit, warehouses and agriculture. But as InvestorPlace‘s Louis Navellier notes, a lack of identity may be hurting it due to its unpredictable nature. He maintains that IDEX carries a massive downside risk from which investors should steer clear.
Things don’t look much better for some of its EV peers. Nikola (NASDAQ:NKLA) has been struggling to shed the dark shadow caused by the arrest of disgraced former CEO Trevor Milton. While NKLA is down more than 70% for the year, its problems didn’t start with Milton and they haven’t stopped with him gone. As Eddie Pan reports, the company is currently venturing into an “unproven technology landscape,” generating no growth but plenty of uncertainty. It doesn’t help that Nikola ended Q3 by issuing a grim delivery warning.
Lordstown Motors (NASDAQ:RIDE) outperformed its peers over the past six months. But being the winner among losing EV stocks doesn’t make RIDE a buy. The company has been struggling to meet deadlines and keep pace with production goals since before the EV boom. With its competitors doing a much better job getting vehicles on the road, there’s no reason for investors to bet on Lordstown now. While it began production on its new electric pickup in September, it seems like too little too late. Like Lordstown, Workhorse (NASDAQ:WKHS) can’t catch a break. The electric van producer has proven unable to capture any real momentum in 2022. While it hasn’t fallen as far as some of its peers, the company doesn’t seem able to repair the damage done to its reputation. As InvestorPlace reports of Workhorse and Lordstown:
“Both have failed to attract a significant customer base while their competitors have succeeded. For this reason, both are EV stocks to sell before markets take a turn for the worst.”
Modern Plant-Based Foods (MDRNF)
When an industry leader takes a turn for the worst, it can push down an entire sector. Right now, the plant-based food industry is struggling as Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) has gone from being a clear winner to an unmistakable loser. When the company that took alternative meats to the mainstream can’t achieve any growth, there’s no real hope for the sector’s smaller-cap companies. Modern Plant-Based Foods (OTCMKTS:MDRNF) should remind investors just how true that is. The microcap Canadian company has fallen more than 90% throughout the year and currently trades at $0.078.
Sometimes stocks priced that low can be tempting. But investors should remember that MDRNF peaked in late 2020 at $3.35 per share. The company never attracts attention, partially because it’s constantly overshadowed by its larger peers. But more importantly, it never has a positive catalyst to report. In July 2022, the company announced it would be increasing production to meet demand. Even this news failed to boost shares. Recently, the New York Times reported that the plant-based food industry is facing an uphill battle as consumer habits shift toward less expensive traditional meats. MDRNF will be one of the first casualties when it collapses.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Mullen Automotive (MULN)
Even strong interest from the r/WallStreetBets crowd can’t help Mullen Automotive (NASDAQ:MULN) pull into the green. The meme stock has been a favorite among retail traders since its initial rise to fame in early 2022. However, MULN is proof that all the social media buzz in the world can’t move a stock with zero growth prospects. And anyone that has been watching its progress, or lack thereof, knows that the company has demonstrated no ability to grow, even in a booming EV market. Even when Mullen has good news to report, it never stays elevated for long. The company recently saw shares pop after it confirmed the acquisition of Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) but just as quickly, they dropped 10%.
On Dec. 20, Mullen expects to deliver its first fleet of electric cargo vans to Europe. This sounds like good news but as Pan speculates, it’s easy to doubt the company’s ability to meet deadlines. Mullen has primarily stayed relevant by acquiring other companies and making promises that don’t pan out when it fails to get its vehicles on the road.
As Navellier notes, acquiring companies like ELMS may actually serve to push it further into the red, as it significantly increases the company’s downside risk while adding little to the upside. In his book, these dilutive measures make MULN a clear choice among penny stocks to sell. Many investors have already cut ties with Mullen and the stock’s current pattern suggests things will only get worse.
Party City (PRTY)
It’s anything but a party for this struggling retailer. Party City (NYSE:PRTY) has spent the year in steep decline with no real growth. While it popped on rising short interest, like most other meme stocks, PRTY failed to maintain any real momentum and quickly tumbled back down every time. When a retail company operates in a niche market, it can make some investors nervous, particularly when the stock has displayed clear instability. Since Party City is down almost 90% for the year with no turnaround in sight, the company is clearly unstable. That’s just where it starts, though. As Bezek reports:
“Fitch recently downgraded Party City’s credit rating to CCC from B-, pushing it further into junk territory. The credit rating agency cited concerns about the ‘rapid deterioration in Party City’s operating and liquidity profile and Fitch’s belief that Party City’s capital structure is likely untenable.’”
As if that isn’t bad enough, the company recently announced plans to lay off 19% of its workforce. Every key indicator suggests that PRTY is a stock to leave behind. At this point, even a strong holiday season can’t save the company and Party City is unlikely to see that.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Pressure Biosciences (PBIO)
For investors still holding this stock, pressure is exactly what they should be feeling. Pressure Biosciences (OTCMKTS:PBIO) is named for the pressure-based platform solutions it provides for the life science industry. While its products are fairly innovative, it’s been years since the company provided any real value for shareholders. In 2000, PBIO traded at over $370 per share. Today it barely trades at $1. That type of decline should illustrate to investors just how much the company has fallen. It has spent 2022 in a state of steady decline, falling almost 50% for the year.
Is there any hope that Pressure Biosciences will ever turn around? Nothing suggests that the company will reverse direction. As InvestorPlace contributor Josh Enomoto reports, it also poses several high risks that investors shouldn’t ignore. In his words:
“Most worrisome in my view, the company’s cash-to-debt ratio sits at 0.01 times, worse than 99% of the underlying sector. As well, its three-year revenue growth rate (on a per-share basis) fell into negative territory.”
All told, this company belongs on a list of stocks to sell before it slips back below a dollar. For a company with so few prospects, that may be the point of no return.
In 2021, RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK) briefly popped above penny stock status. With the streaming and e-sports booms pushing markets up, RNWK was well-positioned to enjoy the ride. Unfortunately, as markets shifted, the artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision platform failed to adapt and hasn’t recovered since. While it has tried to bring new products and services to market, nothing has caught on enough to boost shares.
As of this writing, RNWK is down 37% for the year. While that’s an overall better performance than most companies on this list, that doesn’t make it a buy. RealNetworks’ Q3 earnings were disappointing and did not inspire confidence that a turnaround is imminent. The company reported a revenue net loss of $6.7 million and an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $5.8 million. On top of that, RealNetworks operates in a crowded sector full of bigger, better-established companies that trade for well above $1 per share. Since RWNK is currently priced at $0.72 per share, investors have no reason to regard it as a stable company destined for growth in 2023.
Penny Stocks to Sell: Sharplink Gaming (SBET) And Super League Gaming (SLGG)
It’s been a difficult year for these microcap gaming stocks and 2023 isn’t looking any better. These two companies operate in slightly different gaming niches. Sharplink (NASDAQ:SBET) deals primarily in sports betting while Super League Gaming (NASDAQ:SLGG) provides metaverse gaming platforms. Additionally, it helps brands and content creators establish themselves in the metaverse gaming space. That sounds like exactly the type of company that would have skyrocketed in early 2022 amid the metaverse boom. But SLGG peaked in March 2021 and has since plunged 94%.
SBET has been highly volatile throughout 2022 but like SLGG, it has spent the year trending downward. Both stocks are down roughly 82% for the year, making them both clear choices for penny stocks to sell. Even in the face of good news, neither stock has been able to rise. In October 2022, Sharplink reported it had gained authorization to provide marketing services to sports betting industry operators in 21 U.S. states and Canada. Shares only kept falling, though, just as SLGG did when the company reported 25% YOY revenue growth for Q3.
Both companies have proven unable to demonstrate growth in either good times or bad. They should therefore be avoided or sold.
Vinco Ventures (BBIG)
If a company ever deserved the title of most frustrating stock on the market, it would be Vinco Ventures (NASDAQ:BBIG). It’s hard to explain what this holding company does and even harder to explain why interest in it remains so high. Like Mullen, Vinco has fascinated meme stock investors since it began trading but has never been able to stay in the green for long. After a highly volatile year, BBIG stock is currently down 67% YTD and will likely fall even more before 2023.
Why has Vinco been so turbulent? According to Farooque, it can be attributed to a combination of changes to its leadership team and an unfriendly economic environment. Even if markets do rebound in 2023, Vinco’s volatility should be expected to continue as the trends pushing it down won’t subside. If BBIG was going to turn around, it would have happened already. Investors should cast Vinco aside and focus on more stable investments that have a chance at growth in the coming year. BBIG has had more than enough time to prove its ability to withstand market turbulence. Instead, it has demonstrated the opposite.
On Penny Stocks and Low-Volume Stocks: With only the rarest exceptions, InvestorPlace does not publish commentary about companies that have a market cap of less than $100 million or trade less than 100,000 shares each day. That’s because these “penny stocks” are frequently the playground for scam artists and market manipulators. If we ever do publish commentary on a low-volume stock that may be affected by our commentary, we demand that InvestorPlace.com’s writers disclose this fact and warn readers of the risks.
Read More: Penny Stocks — How to Profit Without Getting Scammed
On the date of publication, Samuel O’Brient 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.com Publishing Guidelines.
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