Making money on Wall Street has proved exceptionally difficult in 2022. Since each of the major U.S. stock indexes hit their respective all-time highs between the midpoint of November 2021 and the first week of January 2022, they’ve all plunged into a bear market. The Nasdaq Composite has fared the worst, with a peak-to-trough decline of as much as 38%.
Over short time frames, bear markets can be unnerving. The velocity of downside moves, coupled with unrealized losses, can make even tenured investors question their thesis. Yet history has proved time and again that buying high-quality stocks during double-digit percentage downturns in the broader market is a smart decision.
Best of all, since most online brokerages have eliminated commissions and minimum-deposit requirements, any amount of money — even $200 — can be the right amount to put to work during this downturn.
If you have $200 ready to invest that won’t be needed to cover emergencies or pay bills, adding it to these four stocks would be a genius move right now.
Bank of America
The first phenomenal stock that would make for a smart add with $200 is money-center giant Bank of America (BAC 0.88%). Even though bank stocks are cyclical and fears of a recession are brewing in the U.S., BofA has two important trends working in its favor.
To begin with, no money-center bank is more interest-sensitive than Bank of America. Normally, this would be a bad thing during a bear market, as we’d expect the Federal Reserve to step in with a variety of monetary easing measures. But that’s not the case this time around.
With inflation running hotter than at any point in the past four decades, the nation’s central bank has no choice but to aggressively raise interest rates. For BofA, this means billions of dollars in added net interest income from its variable-rate outstanding loans. And it doesn’t have to do any extra work to generate this extra income.
The other oft-overlooked catalyst for Bank of America is its growing digital engagement. Investing heavily in digitization has helped increase its number of active monthly digital users to 43 million as of the end of September. More importantly, 48% of total sales are being completed online or via mobile app, which is up 19 percentage points from the comparable quarter in 2019. Because digital interactions cost a fraction of what in-person or phone-based interactions run, BofA is able to save money by consolidating some of its physical branches. This is making an already cheap stock that much more attractive.
Enterprise Products Partners
Another genius stock to buy with $200 is midstream oil and gas company Enterprise Products Partners (EPD 0.52%). While some investors might be leery of energy stocks considering the wild ride they were taken on during the initial stages of the pandemic, Enterprise can easily allay these concerns.
The important thing for investors to understand about Enterprise Products Partners is that it’s a midstream operator. As such, it’s a middleman that operates more than 50,000 miles of transmission pipelines and can store up to 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Companies that move, store, and process oil and natural gas like Enterprise Products Partners work on long-term fixed-fee or volume-based contracts that produce very predictable operating cash flow. So wild fluctuations in the spot price of oil and natural gas have virtually no impact on the company’s cash flow.
Another key catalyst for Enterprise Products Partners is the globally broken energy supply chain. For more than two years, the pandemic has discouraged major energy companies from putting money to work due to economic uncertainty. And Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put oil and natural gas transmission to parts of Europe in doubt. With no means to quickly boost worldwide oil and gas supply, energy commodity prices should remain elevated. That’ll likely encourage drilling projects in the U.S. and only further increase demand for energy infrastructure.
And if that’s still not enough, Enterprise Products Partners is yielding 7.6% and has increased its base annual distribution in each of the past 24 years.
A third stock begging to be bought with $200 is cloud-based lending platform Upstart Holdings (UPST -0.46%). Though you’re right to suspect that a lending platform would run into some struggles with interest rates climbing, Upstart offers competitive advantages that make it a smart buy even in a challenging environment.
What separates Upstart from its competition is the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) based platform that shuns traditional credit-score metrics in favor of machine learning. All told, nearly three-quarters of Upstart loan applications are fully automated and approved. That saves time and costs for lending institutions.
Furthermore, as I’ve previously pointed out, Upstart’s AI-driven platform has led to a broader mix of applicants being approved for loans. On average, Upstart-approved loans have a lower credit score than traditionally vetted loans. But when compared to each other, delinquency rates have been similar for both types of loans. The takeaway is that the company can increase the customer pool for banks and credit unions without adversely affecting their credit risk.
Something else to consider is that Upstart is still very early in its expansion. Throughout most of its young history, it has focused on vetting personal loans. But it’s now engaged in auto-loan originations and small-business loans. On a combined basis, auto and small-business loans represent 10 times the loan market value of just personal loans. Upstart has industry disruptor potential written all over it.
Finally, cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD -0.21%) would be a genius stock to buy with $200 right now. Although growth stocks with premium valuations have fared poorly in 2022, there are very good reasons CrowdStrike can sustain its premium multiple as it grows.
For one, cybersecurity has become a basic necessity. It doesn’t matter how well or poorly the U.S. economy is performing; hackers and robots don’t take a day off. This need for businesses to protect sensitive data provides a relatively safe demand floor beneath most cybersecurity companies.
More specific to CrowdStrike, it has the cloud-native Falcon security platform in its corner. Falcon relies on AI to grow smarter at identifying and responding to potential end-user threats over time. Even though CrowdStrike’s cybersecurity services are costlier than some of its competitors, the company’s gross retention rate has modestly climbed over the trailing-five-year period. That’s an indication its customers trust the product(s).
But what makes CrowdStrike such a surefire investment for growth seekers is its ability to get its existing clients to spend more. While its new-customer acquisition has been impressive, growing the percentage of customers that purchased four or more cloud-module subscriptions from less than 10% to over 70% in a five-year stretch is astounding. If add-on purchases continue at this pace, the company will have no trouble eventually surpassing an 80% adjusted subscription gross margin.
Bank of America is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Sean Williams has positions in Bank of America. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends CrowdStrike Holdings, Inc. and Upstart Holdings, Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.