Meme Stock Movers for 10/18: Coinbase, FuelCell, Meta Materials, Virgin Galactic

U.S. markets closed higher on Friday but were struggling in Monday’s premarket session. The downturn appears to be linked to the European Central Bank’s willingness to jump on inflation PDQ.

More interesting Monday morning was widespread anticipation that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is on the brink of approving the first U.S. Bitcoin ETF, the ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF. The fund, which will trade under the ticker BITO, begins trading Monday, according to a report in Barron’s.

Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest also has signed up to sponsor a Bitcoin ETF. The ARK 21Shares Bitcoin Futures Strategy ETF will be issued by Alpha Architect and 21Shares and will trade under the ARKA ticker. Wood also made news last week when she called meme stocks “dinosaurs” at a conference in Australia, though she is a believer in Bitcoin.

The country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase Global Inc. (NASDAQ: COIN), added 13.7% on Friday on the reports that the SEC would soon offer a Bitcoin ETF. The action slipped on Monday, with the shares trading up by less than 1%. Because BITO will track futures, not actual Bitcoin, the Coinbase exchange is likely to see only a modest increase in revenues from the new ETF. A bet on Coinbase may not pay off big until the SEC allows ETFs to hold actual Bitcoin, but that day is probably coming.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (NASDAQ: FCEL) traded nearly double its average daily volume on Friday and the stock gained nearly 2%. In Monday’s premarket, the stock was up more than 7% on no specific news.

Meta Materials Inc. (NASDAQ: MMAT) is returning to its roots as an oil and gas exploration and production company. At least for a while. The company announced Friday that it has begun drilling two new wells at its Orogrande project in the Permian Basin of West Texas. As with all oil and gas leases, the company’s predecessor, Torchlight Energy, committed to drilling exploratory wells within a certain period in order to maintain its lease rights. In all, Meta is committed to drill four new wells this year and noted that it will begin work on the remaining two next month.

Meta has promised to sell the oil and gas assets it inherited from the reverse merger with Torchlight and distribute the cash from the sales to shareholders. On the one hand, if it lets the leases expire, there are no assets to sell and no cash to distribute. On the other hand, it takes cash to drill for oil and gas, and a return on the investment is not guaranteed. Remember, none of the Torchlight properties has been proved up. The stock closed down about 3.5% on Friday and traded up by less than 1% in Monday’s premarket.

Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc. (NYSE: SPCE) dropped nearly 17% on Friday and traded down another 4% early Monday morning. The delayed resumption of more space flights until the fourth quarter of next year was Friday’s bad news. Monday’s was a downgrade from Neutral to Sell at UBS, together with a price target drop from $26 to $15. The stock traded at around $19.10 in Monday’s premarket.

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