If you follow the advice of legendary investor Warren Buffett literally and religiously, you might not appreciate this list of oddball stocks to buy. Chances are, at least one of these names features an area that does not meet your core area of competency. And that would be a no-no for Buffett, who essentially stated to invest only in what you know.
However, I think even someone as astute and accomplished as the Oracle of Omaha will appreciate another attribute: flexibility. With many bizarre (and sometimes horrifying so) incidents occurring since the coronavirus pandemic, oddball stocks to buy have their place. By that, I’m referring to publicly traded enterprises that don’t always capture mainstream attention. Maybe they’re boring or simply appear to lack relevance.
Still, with so many transitions occurring in society, the key word here is variability. Right now, we’re facing a math question with very few constants provided. We’re going to need to be flexible, adaptable, and yes, creative. Below are the oddball stocks to buy that can surprise investors in 2023.
H&R Block (HRB)
If you’re like arguably most Americans, you hate doing your taxes. Generally speaking, I’m not a big fan of busy paperwork and so I never liked doing my taxes, even when I filed relatively simple W-2 tax forms. However, as an independent contractor filling out 1099 forms, taxes are much more complicated. And that’s why I peg tax advisory firm H&R Block (NYSE:HRB) as one of the oddball stocks to buy.
Sure, taxes might not be the first place to look for market opportunities. However, in the trailing year, HRB gained over 60%. And while it’s down about 12% in the trailing month, I believe HRB is simply offering a temporary discount. Should H&R Block rise higher from here, you can thank the burgeoning gig economy.
With the pendulum of power swinging back to employers, many if not most companies will recall their workers. Naturally, some corporate employees will revolt, choosing to branch out on their own as freelancers. That’s all fine and well until they get to tax time. I’m almost certain that the complexities will drive these gig workers to H&R Block, making it one of the oddball stocks to buy.
Recently, I’ve been discussing appliance manufacturer Whirlpool (NYSE:WHR), which will surely catch a lot of folks by surprise; that is if they don’t understand the context. Let’s face it, Whirlpool represents a boring entity among oddball stocks to buy. Nor has its performance provided much encouragement, shedding 32% of equity value in the trailing year.
However, here’s the vital factor to keep in mind about WHR stock. Essentially, the underlying paradigm shifted back in early 2020. And because equipment breaks down over time (and quicker through additional usage), Whirlpool has a date with destiny.
If that was cryptic, think of it this way. When employers sent their workers home during the initial onslaught of Covid-19, home appliances collectively incurred much greater usage. Therefore, if an appliance under normal conditions were to have failed in 2024 or 2025, the increased usage may push this failure date to sometime this year. Yes, it’s wild to talk so much about WHR as if it’s an innovator. It’s not. However, equipment always breaks down. And that’s why Whirlpool ranks among the oddball stocks to buy.
One of the companies that fade into the background, Valvoline (NYSE:VVV) is an American manufacturer and distributor of its namesake automotive oil, additives, and lubricants. Sure enough, during the worst of the Covid-19 crisis – and throughout most of the new normal – Valvoline may as well have been nonexistent. That’s because with white-collar workers no longer commuting to work, VVV suffered a relevancy crisis.
Frankly, Valvoline’s annual revenue trek tells all you need to know. In 2019, the company posted $2.39 billion in top-line sales. In the next year, it posted only $727 million. I’m sorry but society must return to normal for these office-adjacent businesses to survive. Fortunately, as discussed above, the workplace may soon normalize. Personally, I believe it’s an inevitability.
I don’t want to beat the topic to death. However, remote work caused problems, such as enhanced cybersecurity vulnerabilities and the gentrification of more rural areas. While worker bees might not be happy about it, workplace normalization translates to heavy commuting. And that’s going to be a lifesaver for Valvoline. Therefore, it’s one of the oddball stocks to buy.
Although not the most talked-about enterprise in the capital market, CRH (NYSE:CRH) may soon be a top player. Indeed, for the business week that ended Jan. 6, CRH gained over 10%. Moving forward, I easily see this company as one of the oddball stocks to buy.
A building materials specialist, CRH covers everything from bridges to highways to communications and utilities. Fundamentally, then, the enterprise enjoys two major upside catalysts. First, the Biden administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) earmarks investments toward rebuilding and repairing the nation’s roads and bridges. Obviously, this plays into CRH’s hands, making it one of the oddball stocks to buy.
On another related note, the transition to electric vehicles should increase wear and tear on our roadways. That’s because research from the Delft University of Technology discovered that the extra weight of EVs resulted in greater asphalt wear. Cynically, this dynamic should bolster CRH stock. To be fair, some experts state that heavier EVs won’t cause roads to crumble faster. Of course, you’re free to make up your mind, though if everyone transitioned to EVs, I struggle to understand how that won’t impact asphalt durability.
Wag! Group (PET)
An American pet care company, Wag! Group (NASDAQ:PET) offers a technology platform to connect pet owners with independent pet professionals for on-demand and scheduled services. These include dog walking, training, and other pet care services arranged through a mobile application. Essentially, Wag! Group represents the ride-sharing platform of the pet care market.
Fundamentally, PET may represent one of the oddball stocks to buy because of two core tailwinds. First, as discussed above, the gig economy could expand the number of pet professionals. After possibly years of drudgery in the cubicles of Corporate America, some white-collar workers may need a change of pace. Working with dogs may be just the ticket.
Second, America loves her pets. In 2021, the American Pet Products Association noted that the total pet and pet care industry rang up $123 billion in sales. That set a new benchmark. It also confirmed that in many cases, Americans probably love their furry friends more than their human ones. That’s a positive for PET stock. Of course, the drawback for Wag! Group centers on volatility. In the trailing year, it’s down nearly 73%. Still, recent upside momentum suggests that PET could rank among the oddball stocks to buy for speculators.
Planet Fitness (PLNT)
Back during the initial impact of the Covid-19 crisis, physical fitness center Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT) suffered a catastrophic loss. Of course, at the time, government agencies began cracking down on non-essential activities. And even if gyms were open back then, arguably few wanted to mix it up with strangers. Therefore, 2020 revenue fell to $406.6 million, down from 2019’s tally of $688.8 million.
Unsurprisingly, certain home-fitness equipment providers enjoyed banner years during the new normal. However, we probably stand on the cusp of normalization in the fitness ecosystem. Today, it’s the home-fitness specialists that find themselves struggling. On the other hand, PLNT is on a recovery trek, making it one of the oddball stocks to buy.
In the third quarter of 2022, Planet’s revenue hit $244.4 million, up over 58% against the year-ago quarter. Much of this renewed enthusiasm focuses on the desire for socialization. During the pandemic, the Pew Research Center reported that 40% of U.S. adults faced “high levels of psychological distress.” Almost certainly, loneliness played a significant role. Now, Planet Fitness stands to benefit from Covid’s unique consequences.
Lindblad Expeditions (LIND)
When it comes to oddball stocks to buy, Lindblad Expeditions (NASDAQ:LIND) may well be the ringleader. While most people probably dream about standard vacations such as visiting Paris, Lindblad offers a much more distinct opportunity. From circumnavigating the Baltic Sea to sailing to the Galapagos Islands to shipping out to Antarctica, the company jumps to a whole new level.
Of course, these exotic vacations don’t come cheap. On that basis alone, some folks might steer clear of LIND stock. Another negative factor that comes quickly to mind is Lindblad’s poor market performance. In the trailing year, shares gave up over 48% of equity value. Still, in the business week that ended Jan. 6, LIND skyrocketed over 20%. What’s up with that?
Fundamentally, what could be going on is the manifestation of the wealth gap. With the biggest winners of the Covid-19 pandemic being the ultra-rich, this exclusive demographic is the only one that can afford such extravagance. And because the elite did so well during the last roughly three years, they might splurge on Lindblad’s services.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (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.