When bear markets come around, panic tends to ensue. As the move lower accelerates, stress levels rise as investors worry about the economy, their jobs and their money. But bear markets are precisely the time when investors should be looking for stocks to buy.
Truth be told, bear markets aren’t all that common. The long-term performance of the S&P 500 tends to heavily favor the upside. So even though bear markets are scary, they have historically always been an opportunity.
There are a couple of caveats with that, though. The first is that the statement bear markets “have historically always been an opportunity” applies to the broader indices, not necessarily individual stocks. Plenty of stocks never go on to recover to their prior highs. The second caveat is that we don’t know when the market will bottom or how far it will fall before it does.
Yet, as investors wait for a bottom, there are a few obvious stocks to buy.
|PANW||Palo Alto Networks||$162.04|
Palo Alto Networks (PANW)
Inflation, currency headwinds and fears of a recession have led to weakening demand across most industries as businesses and consumers rein in spending. However, that’s not been the case with cybersecurity.
In August, cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ:PANW) reported better-than-expected revenue and earnings for its fiscal fourth quarter. Revenue jumped 27% year over year to $1.55 billion, while billings were up 44% to $2.7 billion. Management also delivered upbeat guidance. For its fiscal 2023 year, which is just getting started, they forecasted 25% revenue growth and that the company would be profitable on a GAAP basis.
Despite increasing macroeconomic uncertainty, management said customers are making longer-term commitments to Palo Alto Networks. They also noted how many companies are carrying on with their long-term investments despite short-term volatility.
PANW stock has fallen 13% year to date to trade around $162. As I wrote recently, shares are a bargain if they get down to the $130 level and would be an outright steal below $110.
I recently included Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) on a list of blue-chip stocks to buy. In that article, I noted that the company is expected to deliver double-digit percentage earnings and revenue growth annually from now through FY26 and that its operating margins were better than all of the FAANG names.
In the current bear market, Microsoft has suffered a peak-to-trough decline of 37%, hitting a low of $219.13 on Oct. 13. Shares have bounced back to around $242 currently.
To put it bluntly, I’m a buyer all day long when a company with a balance sheet as strong as Microsoft’s sees its share price take a nearly 40% haircut. I consider $210 to $215 an attractive “panic price” entry for long-term investors. However, anytime shares dip below $225, you should consider getting long.
Of today’s three stocks to buy before the bear market ends, Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) is the riskiest of the bunch. Shares of the semiconductor company are down more than 57% year to date and suffered a peak-to-trough drop of 69%. For a company like Nvidia, that’s a monumental decline.
Nvidia dominates the high-end chip market. Betting on Nvidia is a bet on technology itself. Its end markets include data centers, the cloud, artificial intelligence, gaming, automotive and autonomous driving, robots, drones, supercomputing, graphics and much more. For that reason, I know the recovery in Nvidia stock is a question of “when” rather than “if.”
The company’s most recent earnings report was not very encouraging, as guidance missed expectations by a wide margin. While growth is being pressured this year, a Piper Sandler analyst said Nvidia’s business is close to bottoming and shares are ready for a comeback. I have to agree.
On the date of publication, Bret Kenwell held a long position in NVDA. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.