Do you have $ 500? 3 No-Brainer Stocks to Buy Now


Perhaps the most important lesson investors learn when putting their money into the stock market is that patience pays off.

In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has been widely haunted S&P 500 34% lower in just 33 calendar days. Despite unprecedented volatility and uncertainty, those who believed in their long-term investment theses were amply rewarded. The S&P 500 has rebounded 90% since hitting its bear market low in March 2020.

The point is, anytime is a good time to start investing money in the stock market, as long as you have a long-term mindset.

Best of all, you don’t need a shipload of cash to get started or advance your path to financial independence. When you have $ 500 ready to invest that won’t be used to pay bills or cover emergencies, these three simple stocks are waiting to be bought now.

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Barrick Gold

For much of the past decade, Wall Street has shunned gold stocks. That’s because miners were a little too overzealous about taking on debt in the early 2010s after more than a decade of spikes in physical gold prices. But after years of cost cutting and favorable macroeconomic conditions, the gold mining industry is overflowing with value stocks. Therefore Barrick Gold (NYSE: GOLD) is a no-brainer stock to buy now.

From a macro perspective, things are almost perfect for gold. The Federal Reserve has pledged to keep lending rates at or near historic lows and its bond purchase program is set to weigh on long-term yields. Amid rising money supply, low yields, and the prospect of higher inflation in the future, gold checks all the boxes it takes to get well above $ 2,000 an ounce.

But Barrick Gold has more to offer than just realizing a higher price for what it produces and sells. In particular, we’ve seen the company’s balance sheet flourish since early 2019. What was once a net debt position of $ 3.6 billion is now a net cash position of $ 500 million. While higher realized sales prices helped, Barrick’s size and high-yield ore grade of its mines helped bring its all-in sustaining costs (AISC) down to about $ 1,000 per ounce of gold ($ 1,018 / ounce in the first quarter of 2021 and $ 967) / oz for 2020 as a whole). This provides an operating margin well in excess of $ 800 per ounce.

In addition, Barrick Gold aims to improve its AISC. Investments in underground automation in Kibali, Luolo-Guonkoto and Bulyanhulu, as well as in the $ 300 million third shaft project at Turquoise Ridge, Nevada, are expected to improve performance and reduce production costs.

After more than a decade of watching gold mining stocks, I’ve come to the conclusion that multiples of 10 times operating cash flow is a fair valuation. With Barrick Gold currently valued at less than eight times Wall Street’s cash flow forecast for 2021, significant upside remains likely.

A key stuck in a lock surrounded by dozens of alphanumeric codes.

Image source: Getty Images.

Ping identity

During the coronavirus pandemic, traditional jobs were disrupted like never before. Although companies switched online and to the cloud long before the coronavirus became known, the pandemic has brought this trend into full swing. In other words, as more data goes to the cloud, the responsibility to protect that information from hackers and robots increasingly falls on third parties. That’s why you’re putting your $ 500 to work Ping identity (NYSE: PING) is such a no-brainer.

As the name probably suggests, Ping Identity focuses on providing identity verification solutions for its enterprise customers. Ping’s platform leverages artificial intelligence to become smarter in detecting and responding to threats over time, and its more advanced services take a hybrid approach of cloud-native security and on-premises protection. Cloud-native applications tend to be more flexible than local solutions in identifying and responding to problems.

While it’s not euphemistic that Pings 2020 was less than stellar – a number of its clients opted for shorter-term agreements due to the uncertainty of a pandemic – a deeper look at its recurring earnings looks promising. Annual recurring revenue (ARR) increased 16% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. With Ping primarily focused on growing the higher-margin Software-as-a-Service portion of its business, as opposed to its term-based license subscriptions, we’ll likely see ARR growth in the mid to high tens, with revenue growth eventually catching up.

While mid-teens ARR growth doesn’t seem as impressive as what other cloud-based companies deliver, I want to remind people not to overlook the 85% subscription gross margin that Ping Identity brings in. With margins this robust, even a modest double-digit growth rate can generate significant cash flow.

When you consider that most cybersecurity stocks are valued at 10 to 20 times annual sales, ping is a bargain at six times projected sales for the next year.

An engineer checks the cables of a data center server tower while holding a tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.


A third, simple stock that you can buy now for $ 500 is a fast growing edge cloud company Fast (NYSE: FSLY).

Fastly offers a range of services to its customers, but is perhaps best known for its content delivery network. In particular, it is responsible for speeding up the delivery of content to end users in a secure manner. As businesses went online at exceptional speeds during the pandemic, traffic demand for Fastly increased. This is great news considering that Fastly’s operating model is usage based.

While Fastly will likely be remembered for its meteoric rise and fall over the past 15 months, I believe that the company’s defining moment came in the third quarter of 2020. At that point, the company announced that its top customer, ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, was pulling most of its traffic off the network. For context, ByteDance was embroiled in an interstate dispute with the Trump administration at the time. Still, instead of curling up in the fetal position, Fastly managed to increase sales by 42% in the third quarter and another 35% in the recently ended first quarter. In other words, Fastly has demonstrated the importance of its services to a wide range of fast growing companies.

While Fastly remains unprofitable after acquiring Signal Sciences as it increases its headcount and incurs higher costs, other metrics remain promising. Total customer count rose 123 to 2,027 in the first quarter, adjusted gross margin remained robust at 60.1%, and the US dollar-based net expansion rate (DBNER) reached 139%. That last number, DBNER, tells us that existing customers spent 39% more in the first quarter of 2021 than in the same period last year.

As more and more content becomes available online over time, Fastly is at the helm of a sustainable, high-growth operating model.

This article represents the opinion of the author who may disagree with the “official” referral position of a premium advisory service from the Motley Fool. We are colorful! Questioning an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that will help us get smarter, happier, and richer.

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