Beyond Meat Inc.'s (BYND.O) eye-popping 226-per-cent rally since going public last week is already drawing skeptics on Wall Street.

The valuation has become "absurd" and the stock should pull back soon, according to Atlanta-based Harrington Alpha Fund founder Bruce Cox. His newly-launched long/short fund initiated a short position in the stock on Wednesday as shares extended gains for the fifth day since their market debut.

"The valuation, by any metric, is out of control," Cox said by phone, pointing to the stock’s elevated trading volumes. "It will definitely roll over ... it’s a matter of when."

Cox, former senior vice-president of investments at Stifel, said that anywhere in the US$40s — where the stock opened in its first day of trading — is a more reasonable price. He predicts the sell-side analysts, who’ll be able to weigh in on the stock after research restrictions expire on May 28, will advise clients against buying shares at these levels.

Beyond Meat representatives did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), Credit Suisse, BofAML, Jefferies and William Blair are among banks that managed the company’s initial public offering who may publish research after the quiet period ends. The stock has already received two bullish initiations from Freedom Finance and Bernstein, but with widely different price targets, US$28 and US$81, respectively.

Cox said fundamentals don’t support the current valuation and noted that companies — like Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN.N) — can "pretty easily" enter the market. Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard acknowledged the competitive dynamics in the alternative meat market in her initiation note on Monday, but expressed optimism that rising consumer demand should allow for multiple players.

Howard predicted the total addressable market could reach about US$40.5 billion in the U.S. over the next decade. If Beyond Meat can grow its market share to five per cent from two per cent currently, this would imply sales of US$2 billion in 2028. The El Segundo, California-based company in 2018 posted revenue of US$87.9 million.

Beyond Meat, which had the strongest first day for an IPO since the financial crisis, added another 2.7 per cent on Wednesday, trading at US$81.32 as of 1:27 p.m. in New York.

The stock’s options contracts started trading today with little fanfare as only about 7,900 contracts changed hands. Lyft options, which traded for the first time on April 4 since its IPO, shows a total contract volume of almost 47,000 for its options debut.

--With assistance from Gregory Calderone