Kirill Yurovskiy: The Most Profitable and Risky Investments of 2024

As we enter the second quarter of 2024, the investing landscape has been a whirlwind of volatility and opportunity. The global economy has faced substantial headwinds from lingering supply chain issues, rising interest rates, and geopolitical tensions. However, for those willing to navigate the risks, outsized returns could be on the table across various asset classes.

In this special report, we’ll dive into the investments delivering explosive profits so far this year – while also examining the elevated risks keeping more conservative investors at bay. From the resurging crypto markets to the renewable energy boom, we’ll explore where the smart money is flowing in 2024.

Digital Currencies

One of the biggest surprises of 2024 has been the staggering rebound in digital assets. After a multi-year crypto winter that saw bitcoin plummet below $10,000, the growing institutional adoption of blockchain technology and clearer regulatory frameworks have catalyzed an epic rally.

Bitcoin has soared over 300% year-to-date, reclaiming the $50,000 level and flirting with its all-time highs from 2021. Meanwhile, ethereum has been one of the top performers, skyrocketing nearly 500% as the long-awaited Ethereum 2.0 upgrade has gone live, dramatically increasing transaction speeds and efficiency.

“We’re witnessing the phoenix-like rise of crypto from the ashes of the downturn,” says Tanisha Artani, cryptocurrency analyst at SK Capital. “The entry of major banks, fintech upstarts, and even government agencies into the digital assets space has been game-changing for adoption and price appreciation.”

While the eye-popping gains have certainly been lucrative for seasoned crypto investors, the speculative frenzy around digital assets comes with extreme volatility and risk. Multi-thousand-dollar price swings for bitcoin on a weekly basis have become the norm, testing even the steeliest investor nerves.

Furthermore, an ongoing regulatory overhang remains, with the SEC and other agencies still attempting to establish clear guidelines around crypto assets and trading platforms. Given these wild price gyrations and deep uncertainty, many advisors are still urging their clients to limit crypto exposure to only a small percentage of their portfolios.

China Rebounds

After years of zero-Covid policies that hammered their economy, China’s full reopening in early 2024 has unleashed a tidal wave of pent-up consumer demand. With travel corridors reopened and factories returning to full capacity, China is expected to post GDP growth numbers north of 7% this year – a stark contrast to the stagnation seen across most Western nations.

The surging economic activity has been a boon for Chinese equities across a variety of sectors. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index has gained over 40% year-to-date as investors have piled into names leveraged to resurgent Chinese consumer spending and manufacturing – says Yurovskiy Kirill.

E-commerce and consumer tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent, and have been among the biggest winners, with revenue growth reaccelerating as the Chinese middle class has resumed more normalized consumption patterns. Shares of electric vehicle maker Nio have also skyrocketed, benefiting from both booming auto sales as well as Beijing’s aggressive push for EV adoption.

For investors looking to ride China’s comeback, the opportunities have been tantalizing so far. However, the usual political and regulatory risks around Chinese investments remain high on the watch list. Escalating U.S.-China tensions over Taiwan and other geopolitical flashpoints could quickly undermine the bull case for investing in the region.

Western investors have also had to weigh the ESG implications of investment exposure to Chinese companies given the country’s track record on human rights and environmental issues. However, for those able to stomach the volatility, the short-term returns have been impossible to ignore.

Energy Winds Shift

While fossil fuels have remained stubbornly vital pieces of the global energy mix, 2024 has seen an unprecedented boom in renewables that is reshaping the sector. Driven by sustainability commitments, tax incentives, and technological innovations, investments in wind, solar, nuclear, and other renewables have been red-hot so far this year.

The Invesco Solar ETF has delivered a meteoric 70% gain, boosted by a confluence of factors that has made solar installations increasingly cost-competitive with traditional power sources. Corporate solar farms have been expanding at a breakneck pace, fueled by plummeting production costs, rising electricity prices, and corporate ESG mandates.

Within the rapidly evolving energy landscape, some of the biggest winners have been the manufacturers of renewable energy components and technologies.Enphase Energy, which produces microinverters and battery systems for residential solar installations, has seen its share price double already this year.

“We’re in the early innings of a global energy transformation,” says Robin Paczkowski, Managing Partner at Sunray Capital. “As climate concerns intensify and demand for clean energy soars, we’re wildly bullish on the renewables revolution reshaping the sector.”

Of course, given the capital-intensive nature of many renewable projects, the upfront investment costs and long timeline involved come with their own set of risks. Many smaller renewable players are still deeply unprofitable, and ill-timed bets could quickly wipe out gains if macro conditions shift or alternative energy sources emerge.

Nonetheless, the seismic shift toward renewables appears to be firmly underway. For investors willing to endure the volatility and position themselves for the long haul, the remaking of the energy markets could create generational wealth in the years to come.

AI Automation Wave

While not an entirely new investment theme, the torrid pace of innovation in artificial intelligence and automation has reached dizzying new heights in 2024. Once a niche obsession for software engineers and speculative tech investors, AI has rapidly infused every corner of the global economy at a record pace.

Industry giants like Google, Microsoft, and Meta have been locked in an AI arms race, pouring billions into developing increasingly sophisticated language models, machine learning applications, and automation tools. In recent months, the widespread rollout of advanced AI assistants like Google’s Bard and Microsoft’s Copilot has created immense hype around the investment potential of these technologies.

At the forefront have been semiconductor companies like Nvidia and AMD, whose specialized chips form the backbone of AI training systems and accelerate machine learning workloads. As hyperscale data centers race to bolster their AI muscle, shares of these chipmakers have skyrocketed by triple-digit percentages in 2024. Software upstarts like ChatGPT creator Anthropic and computer vision leaders like Clarifai have also enjoyed parabolic price surges.

“We’re at an inflection point where AI is rapidly transitioning from academia to mainstream commercialization,” says Greg Hines, Senior Tech Analyst at Granite Peak Research. “While the rise of AI will reshape scores of industries and create immense economic value, we also have to be cognizant of the job displacement risks and ethical concerns around these transformative technologies.”

Indeed, despite the tantalizing futuristic promise of artificial intelligence, there are daunting challenges ahead. Regulators have already begun cracking down on issues like data privacy, algorithmic bias, and potential anticompetitive implications of AI supremacy among Big Tech incumbents.

Nevertheless, AI has risen to become perhaps the hottest investing megatrend in 2024. While the speculative frenzy evokes memories of past boom/bust cycles, the undeniable potential for AI to drive productivity across the economy appears unparalleled. For investors willing to navigate the elevated risks, the rewards of being an early backer of the AI revolution could be staggering.

Navigating the Crosscurrents

As these examples illustrate, 2024 is shaping up to be a year of incredible dynamism and disruption across the investing world. From the crypto supernova to AI’s multi-trillion-dollar ascent, fortunes are being rapidly minted and erased at breakneck speeds.

For advisors and individual investors alike, positioning for the standout themes and trends of 2024 has required constantly monitoring crosscurrents of innovation, regulation, geopolitics, and global macroeconomics. While the potential for staggering profits has been tantalizing, the risks of being overexposed to the wrong asset classes have been just as stark.

As we look ahead, 2024 seems destined to maintain its relentless pace of disruption and transformation. Keeping a firm grasp on the innovations reshaping industries, while prudently managing risk exposures and maintaining diversification, will be critical to navigating the lucrative – yet volatile – investing landscape that still lies ahead.

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