When Heard on the Street opened up its Summertime Stock-Picking Contest to the audience, readers rushed to name their favorite (Amazon) and least favorite (Tesla) stocks. The nearly 2,500 picks include tech stocks, food companies, marijuana producers and the fear gauge.
Readers have four more days to pick stocks and compete with the Heard’s writers. Results of the contest will be published in December.
Some 13 of the top 14 names through Wednesday were widely held technology stocks, with Amazon.com and Apple , the world’s first two trillion-dollar companies, in the top five. Also reflecting a recent theme, three of readers’ most popular picks were marijuana companies.
What we didn’t expect was quite so much contrarian thinking. The most crowded pick by far was electric-car maker Tesla . But, of the 123 readers who named Tesla, four out of five bet its shares would fall. Readers have been paying attention to the Heard’s skeptical take on the controversial company and its polarizing boss, Elon Musk.
Other pans include Snap Inc. More than half of the readers who chose it expect it to drop by the time the contest ends on Dec. 14. Readers also were pessimistic about Chipotle Mexican Grill and Campbell Soup .
But, when it comes to the U.S. market overall, it was something of a split decision. A surprising two-thirds of those picking an exchange-traded fund that mirrors the S&P 500 thought it would be lower while a similar proportion thought a fairly calm market would get even more placid, reflected by a drop in the VIX, the market’s “fear gauge.”
A bet on volatility may be a huge risk for a person’s stock portfolio, but it makes sense for a contest where readers are competing against a large field—thousands of people just like them. With only their pride at stake, the key to victory in such a contest is to go big or go home.
Along those lines, one popular pick was Helios & Matheson Analytics , the backer of the flailing MoviePass service. The company’s shares are down 99.9% over the past year, yet nearly 70% of the readers who named the stock believe it has more upside than downside. Perhaps a Hollywood ending will occur. Though less extreme in terms of potential payoff, beleaguered General Electric and Deutsche Bank , both recently ejected from benchmark stock indexes, mostly attracted long picks. Sagging Turkish assets, both stocks and the ailing lira, were another story, with universal pessimism.
Say what you want about the ability of journalists to pick stocks, but at least one of the Heard’s picks will be tough to beat: Dan Gallagher’s choice of chip maker Advanced Micro Devices is up nearly 40% in just over three weeks.
Write to Spencer Jakab at [email protected]