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Want to play the lottery? These are the most speculative stocks of the year, by one measure

It’s 13-F season, which means the world gets to find out most of what the world’s top fund managers have been up, on a tape-delay basis. The likes of Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn it is fair to say are not day traders but like to stick around in a stock for a long time.


It’s 13-F season, which means the world gets to find out most of what the world’s top fund managers have been up, on a tape-delay basis. The likes of Warren Buffett and Carl Icahn it is fair to say are not day traders but like to stick around in a stock for a long time.

The opposite of long-term investing is speculation, and it’s worthwhile knowing what those stocks are, too. That’s all the more so this year, when investors have been encouraged to take more speculative activity in light of the view, real or imagined, that the Federal Reserve will pause, and possibly reverse, interest-rate hikes.

There’s a simple way to identify so-called lottery stocks. A research paper from authors including Alok Kumar of the University of Miami notes that, if all market participants were passive investors, the ratio of dollar volume to market cap would be equal for all stocks. So, look for the stocks with the highest turnover ratios to find the most speculative stocks.

MarketWatch did just that, screening New York Stock Exchange- and Nasdaq-listed stocks, with market caps of at least $500 million.

The winner, so to speak, by some distance was Mullen Automotive, the California electric-vehicle maker. Others include ContextLogic, the e-commerce company that this week was backed by Citron Research; Marathon Digital, a bitcoin miner; two AI plays, SoundHound AI and; Carvana, the struggling used-car retailer; and Silvergate Capital, which has aggressively lent to crypto clients.

Company Ticker Avg volume-to-market cap
Mullen Automotive MULN, -0.37% 31557
ContextLogic WISH, -14.65% 5720
Marathon Digital MARA, +14.87% 4962
SoundHound AI SOUN, +14.94% 2642 BBAI, +5.61% 2245
Carvana CVNA, -2.72% 2143
Silvergate Capital SI, +18.01% 2129
Opendoor Technologies OPEN, +7.46% 2009
Riot Platforms RIOT, +7.86% 1788
AMC Entertainment AMC, -3.85% 1567
Source: FactSet

That methodology, applied in reverse, also reveals some of the least speculative names. They include Coca-Cola KO, -1.67%, Chipotle Mexican Grill CMG, +1.87%, Morningstar MORN, -0.43%, BlackRock BLK, -1.05% and, to the surprise of no one, Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B, -0.94%. The prize for the least speculative company that had at least some volume was Brooge Energy BROG, +5.00%, an oil refinery and storage company based in the United Arab Emirates.

The market

U.S. stock futures ES00, -0.34% NQ00, -0.45% were pointing to a weaker start, after Tuesday’s close in which the S&P 500 SPX, -0.03% didn’t move much at all. The dollar DXY, +0.36% rose, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.751% was 3.73%.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

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The buzz

The 13-F from Berkshire Hathaway revealed Warren Buffett didn’t do much at all in the fourth quarter. His Apple AAPL, -0.42% position went higher, probably due to the closing of Berkshire Hathaway’s acquisition of Alleghany, and he boosted its stake in Occidental Petroleum OXY, +2.44% while he sharply cut his stakes in U.S. Bancorp USB, +0.08%, Bank of New York Mellon BK, -0.40% and contract chip maker Taiwan Semiconductor 2330, -3.67% TSM, +1.92%.

There’s another big economic indicator due for release on Wednesday, with retail sales the highlight, but also the Empire State manufacturing survey, industrial production, a home-builder survey and business inventories on the docket. U.K. inflation fell for the third straight month, but was still in double digits at 10.1%.

Elon Musk disclosed he donated about $2 billion of Tesla TSLA, +7.51% stock to charity, while the White House said Tesla will open up its charging network to other EV makers by the end of 2024.

Musk separately told the World Government Summit that he wanted to find a chief executive for Twitter by the end of the year. Twitter engineers reportedly changed settings after a Musk tweet saying he was supporting the Eagles in the Super Bowl got less engagement than a similar missive from President Joe Biden.

Airbnb ABNB, +3.82% and TripAdvisor TRIP, +2.91% both benefited from strong travel demand as their shares climbed following fourth-quarter results. Lender Upstart UPST, +4.72% guided for a bigger loss on worse-than-forecast revenue for the first quarter.

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Top tickers

There were the most active stock-market tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m. Eastern.

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Ticker Security name
TSLA, +7.51% Tesla
BBBY, -4.90% Bed Bath & Beyond
AMC, -3.85% AMC Entertainment
GME, +0.91% GameStop
TSM, +1.92% Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing
AAPL, -0.42% Apple
MULN, -0.37% Mullen Automotive
NIO, Nio
APE, -3.31% AMC Entertaiment preferreds
PLTR, +21.16% Palantir Technologies
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