The Motley Fool

3 stocks I’d avoid at all costs

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

caution wet floor sign at a stairway
Image source: Getty Images

Many investors look to London’s junior AIM market for stocks with millionaire-maker potential. However, despite there being hundreds of companies on AIM, history shows big winners are few and far between.

Often, the growth potential of a stock turns out to have been over-egged, or a case of the emperor’s new clothes, and investors end up with a substantial loss. In these situations, three things we commonly see flaws in are the business, the transparency of its financial reporting, and its market valuation.

5 Stocks For Trying To Build Wealth After 50

Markets around the world are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic… and with so many great companies trading at what look to be ‘discount-bin’ prices, now could be the time for savvy investors to snap up some potential bargains.

But whether you’re a newbie investor or a seasoned pro, deciding which stocks to add to your shopping list can be a daunting prospect during such unprecedented times.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool UK analyst team have short-listed five companies that they believe STILL boast significant long-term growth prospects despite the global upheaval…

We’re sharing the names in a special FREE investing report that you can download today. And if you’re 50 or over, we believe these stocks could be a great fit for any well-diversified portfolio.

Click here to claim your free copy now!

With this in mind, three stocks I’m currently avoiding are Purplebricks (LSE: PURP), First Derivatives (LSE: FDP) and Telit Communications (LSE: TCM).


Business: I’ve serious doubts about the long-term viability of online estate agent Purplebricks, due to diminishing revenue returns from increasing marketing spend. In its latest financial year, it eased back modestly on UK marketing in the second half, and saw second-half revenue plunge by £6.5m. It also swung to an operating loss.

Reporting: Purplebricks refuses to disclose the number of its instructions that result in a completed sale. I’ve seen an increase in dissatisfied customers on Trustpilot recently. ‘Bad’ ratings in the last 475 reviews are running at three times the historical rate. I suspect this is a further indication the business is going backwards.

Valuation: At a share price of 110p, Purplebricks is valued at £337m. This is 2.8 times my estimate of trailing revenue of £119m from continuing operations. The rating is far too high, in my view.

First Derivatives

Business: New technology is a sector to which investors seeking millionaire-maker stocks are naturally drawn. Companies in the sector can readily fashion impressive-sounding growth stories. A few buzzwords, a collaboration with a tech giant, and talk of multi-billion-dollar addressable markets can do wonders for investor excitement. Fintech and martech specialist First Derivatives is a case in point.

Reporting: The company’s accounts came in for severe criticism last year from renegade City analyst Matt Earl’s ShadowFall outfit. While First Derivatives has been valued as a high-performing software company, ShadowFall reckoned that on a true view of the accounts, it has the characteristics of a low-margin consultancy or recruitment business.

Valuation: When paper profits are questionable, my default valuation measure is free cash flow. First Derivatives generated around £6m last year. Against this, its market valuation of £574m at a share price of 2,150p is far too rich in my book.

Telit Communications

Business: Another new technology stock is “global enabler of the Internet of Things” Telit Communications. It sold its automotive solutions division earlier this year, reduced its debt, and reported a net cash position at the half-year end.

Reporting: Back in 2017, I showed how Telit’s accounting enabled it to post impressive paper profits, while generating little or no free cash flow. A few months later, founder and chief executive Oozi Cats and his wife Ruth (apparently on the payroll as an ‘art curator’) were exposed as fugitives from historical fraud indictments, and high-tailed it out of Dodge.

Valuation: Cats remains at large and a major shareholder (dealing in the stock as recently as last month). But with new faces in the boardroom, how should we value the remnants of his empire? At a share price of 155p, the market says £206m. I say, show me the free cash flow to justify it.

One Killer Stock For The Cybersecurity Surge

Cybersecurity is surging, with experts predicting that the cybersecurity market will reach US$366 billion by 2028more than double what it is today!

And with that kind of growth, this North American company stands to be the biggest winner.

Because their patented “self-repairing” technology is changing the cybersecurity landscape as we know it…

We think it has the potential to become the next famous tech success story.

In fact, we think it could become as big… or even BIGGER than Shopify.

Click here to see how you can uncover the name of this North American stock that’s taking over Silicon Valley, one device at a time…

G A Chester has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Our 6 'Best Buys Now' Shares

Renowned stock-picker Mark Rogers and his analyst team at The Motley Fool UK have named 6 shares that they believe UK investors should consider buying NOW.

So if you’re looking for more stock ideas to try and best position your portfolio today, then it might be a good day for you. Because we're offering a full 33% off your first year of membership to our flagship share-tipping service, backed by our 'no quibbles' 30-day subscription fee refund guarantee.

Simply click below to discover how you can take advantage of this.