Election Year Encore: Can 2020’s Top 7 Stock Winners Repeat Their Performance in 2024?

Stock Market

The 2024 presidential election is shaping up to be just as exciting and contentious the 2020 contest. That’s because it looks to be a rematch between President Biden and former President Trump. There’s a wildcard thrown in this time with Robert Kennedy Jr. running an independent campaign that could pull voters from both sides.

The stock market went on a rollercoaster ride four years ago. A decade-long bull market was brought up short by the pandemic. The S&P 500 lost one-third of its value in a matter of weeks only to make a U-turn and soar higher once more. It wasn’t uncommon to see stocks soar by 1,000% or more.

These are the seven top 2020 stocks that didn’t end up crashing and becoming penny stocks. Can they repeat their prized performance from four years ago? Let’s find out!

Novavax (NVAX) 

Novavax (NVAX) research laboratory logotype enlarged with a magnifying glass.This laboratory has developed a vaccine against the covid-19 virus. NVAX price predictions.

Source: pixinoo / Shutterstock.com

The pandemic, of course, was the defining moment of 2020. Not only for the devastation it caused in our lives but also for the opportunity it created for companies to rise to the challenge. Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) shocked everyone when the Operation Warp Speed committee granted it $1.6 billion in federal funds to develop a Covid-19 vaccine. It was more than any other drugmaker was given at the time. Its vaccine candidate had the best potential in testing ahead of even Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA). It hadn’t undergone human testing at the time but preliminary results in primates looked promising.

As we all know, both Pfizer (and its partner BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) and Moderna went to market first. They were given emergency use authorization (EUA) for their experimental vaccines and shielded from liability for any damages for harm caused by them. Today, myocarditis — a potentially deadly inflammation of the heart muscle — is more common in people who received Covid vaccines than those who are unvaccinated.

Novavax, though, would be late in releasing its own vaccine. NVAX stock soared 2,695% in 2020, and tripled again in early 2021, ultimately plummeting back to earth. From it’s all-time high of $320 per share, Novavax trades at around $4.40 per share today. While it has a combination Covid and flu vaccine in development, there seems little chance it will repeat as a top performer this year.

HIVE Digital Technologies (HIVE)

Image of a well-lit data center

Source: Shutterstock

Back then, HIVE Digital Technologies (NASDAQ:HIVE) was known as HIVE Blockchain Technologies. It changed its name last year to better reflect its new focus on high-performance computing data centers. It was another stock that generated enormous returns in 2020 only to go on and soar even higher the following year.

At the time, though, it was all about bitcoin mining as Bitcoin (BTC-USD) was blowing through the $20,000 price threshold. Mining stocks were seen as an attractive way for investors to get exposure to Bitcoin’s price in a relatively risk-free way because they were seen as cryptocurrency infrastructure stocks.

Bitcoin mining isn’t anywhere near as popular today. It’s why HIVE Digital is no longer HIVE Blockchain. Particularly as the Bitcoin halving event will make mining even less profitable than it is now because it will slow the production of new Bitcoin.

HIVE Digital soared 2,507% in 2020 and doubled again in February, hitting almost $21 a share. It has since lost 88% of its value and trades at around $3.30 per share. No amount of rebranding will turn around its fortunes this year.

Blink Charging (BLNK) 

a blink charging station, BLNK stock

Source: David Tonelson/Shutterstock.com

Make it three in a row with Blink Charging (NASDAQ:BLNK), which began to ramp higher in 2020 only to reach its apex in 2021. Afterward, it would begin a long slog lower.

The electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment provider as the EV industry was hot and the need for charging stations was strong. Blink Charging ended 2020 with over 16,600 charging stations installed, of which 7,062 were on the Blink Network. That was a 12% increase over the year before.

Revenue had tripled to $6.2 million while gross profits rose four-fold to $1.5 million giving it 24% gross margins. Blink was still a loss-generating business, and net losses had almost doubled to $17.8 million, but it was seen as well on the path to a bright future. The stock rocketed 2,186% higher that year.

Today the EV industry is in a different place. While still expanding, demand is rapidly shrinking globally and EV makers are resorting to price-cutting to lure buyers in. It’s not a healthy situation and one that has cooled the momentum for charging station stocks. Blink Charging sunk from over $60 a stub to below $3 a share.

Vaxart (VXRT) 

VXRT stock: A photo of a person wearing gloves holding a bottle of pills.

Source: Photo courtesy of Vaxart, Inc.

Okay, make it four companies. Biotech Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) has seen several massive spikes in its stock. It started 2020 as a tiny penny stock but the pandemic help it burst onto the scene. Jumping onto the vaccine bandwagon, Vaxart announced it was pursuing an oral vaccine for Covid and the stock made its way from 34 cents per share all the way up to $17 a share. And just as quickly plummeted back down to around $1 per share. It closed out the year under $6 a share making for a nice 1,600% gain.

It would be a repeat performance in 2021 when it rocketed to over $23 a share after announcing positive phase 1 results from its investigational VXA-CoV2-1 vaccine. At this point though, Vaxart was well behind the pack in developing a Covid vaccine. Both Pfizer and Moderna had released their vaccines two months prior. Vaxart’s therapy is still in Phase II testing. 

With that said, as Vaxart notes, “it is now the only company to have taken an oral tablet COVID-19 to a Phase II clinical trial.” Pfizer and Moderna essentially conducted an experiment on the entire global population. They only operated under the EUA and have never gotten traditional FDA approval for their shots. If Vaxart’s ever makes it through to the end it may be the first to achieve a positive result through rigorous testing.

Riot Platforms (RIOT) 

In this photo illustration, the Riot Platforms (RIOT) logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.

Source: rafapress / Shutterstock.com

It wasn’t just HIVE Blockchain undergoing a reimagining after the Bitcoin mining mania wore off. Riot Blockchain also changed its name last year, becoming Riot Platforms (NASDAQ:RIOT). It’s purpose was to reflect its growth strategy and the diversified nature of its operations, though Riot’s goal is still to be “the world’s leading Bitcoin-driven infrastructure platform.”

Shrinking profit margins were turning investors off to mining operations, so rebranding as “digital” or becoming a “platform” took the sting away from the association. Applied Blockchain also transformed into Applied Digital (NASDAQ:APLD) for much the same reasons. Many others did so as well.

While it was still a mining operation though, Riot rode the intense investor enthusiasm to a 1,390% gain in 2020. It would reach its all-time high just two weeks later, cresting at $29 before losing two-thirds of its value. Today Riot Platforms stock trades at $10 a stub as no amount of rebranding can turn the business around.

Cardiff Oncology (CRDF) 

A doctor points at an abstract representation of various aspects of oncology. SHPH stock

Source: Oleg Ivanov IL / Shutterstock.com

Biotech Cardiff Oncology (NASDAQ:CRDF) didn’t rise to glory in 2020 on the back of the Covid pandemic. Rather, as its name implies, it had bigger fish to fry in cancer. Its lead molecule, onvansertib, was a unique opportunity because it was targeting cancer caused by the KRAS mutation. That is an error in a normal cell protein that signals the body to produce more cells, which turns into cancer. 

Although there are other drug developers focused on the KRAS mutation, including Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), this was Cardiff’s only drug and if successful, it would have been a multi-billion opportunity. Shares soared 1,328% in 2020 on that potential.

CRDF stock ran higher again in 2021 as well after some promising, though mixed results in early phase testing caused the stock to stumble. It would go on to fall further in 2022 as additional results also showed promise but underwhelmed the market. But it’s off to the races again in 2024!

Cardiff Oncology stock is up 300% so far this year and is nearly 400% higher over the past six months. Virtually all of the gains came in just the last months after the drug developer reported positive results from testing. As of this writing CRDF stock is in the top 20 of stock performance this year meaning there’s a good chance it can repeat its winning results of 2020.

Nio (NIO)

Nio Chinese automobile manufacturer logo displayed on mobile phone

Source: Piotr Swat / Shutterstock.com

Unfortunately, Chinese EV maker Nio (NYSE:NIO) isn’t likely to do so. It will more likely mimic the performance of Blink Charging than Cardiff. As noted before, the EV industry is in a state of flux. With sales growth ebbing, this back-of-the-pack EV stock isn’t going to suddenly charge to the forefront.

Nio is also not profitable, so the ongoing price-cutting environment will only set Nio’s chances back even further. But in 2020 it didn’t look that way at all.

Where most other EV companies were building sedans, Nio was making SUVs and finding a market for them. Even amid the pandemic, which China responded to far more harshly than Western governments did, Nio was steadily growing monthly sales and had secured financing from Tencent Holdings (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) and the government. Nio stock soared 1,089% in 2020.

After hitting an all-time high of $63 a share in early 2021, Nio long ago skidded off the road. The stock goes for less than $4.50 a share today and nothing suggests it’s about to rev its engines higher.

On the date of publication, Rich Duprey did not hold (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.

Rich Duprey has written about stocks and investing for the past 20 years. His articles have appeared on Nasdaq.com, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance, and he has been referenced by U.S. and international publications, including MarketWatch, Financial Times, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cheddar News, The Boston Globe, L’Express, and numerous other news outlets.

Articles You May Like

Interest Rate Roulette: 3 Stocks to Sell If the Fed Doesn’t Cut Rates
Three Small-Cap Stocks to Buy Before a September-Rate-Cut Rally
If You Can Only Buy One Growth Stock in July, It Better Be One of These 3 Names
Broadcom Stock Could Enter the ‘Buy Zone’ Ahead of Earnings
Sell Alert: 3 Popular Stocks To Get Out Now