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A full 23 months ago, I identified 10 companies that I would be putting $40,000 of my own retirement money behind. This was, has been, and will continue to be my way of helping the world to invest better.

Since then, that sum of money has grown to $51,760 -- a 29.4% increase and $1,720 better than if I had just invested the money in the S&P 500.

Every month, I look over these stocks to see which three are tempting. I call these my "Buy Now" stocks because I think they're pretty good deals. Read the chart below to see how the whole portfolio has performed, check out my best buys, and at the end I'll offer up access to a special premium report on one of the 10 stocks that's been floundering lately.


Publication Date


Vs. S&P 500

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )




Pricesmart (NASDAQ: PSMT  )




Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU  )




Intuitive Surgical 




National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV  )








Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM  )








Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  )




Johnson & Johnson 









Source: YCharts.

No, Google didn't come out with any earth-shattering earnings, nor is the company quite as cheap as it has been in years past. But with every passing quarter, Google goes further and further to solidify the moat surrounding its business.

For the first quarter, revenue increased 31% -- though it would have been a more modest 22% without the Motorola acquisition. Earnings increased at a slower pace -- roughly 15% -- but that was expected given how the company is investing in its future.

But probably the most important number came from a continued trend in paid clicks. Google has made it clear it is going after volume (more ads) over margins (higher cost per click). That method has paid off, as the number of paid clicks increased 20%, while the cost per click was down only 4% from the year before.  

Essentially, the strategy widens Google's moat, getting more customers hooked on its advertising while pricing competitors out of the market.

Though it's certainly not a perfect analogy, I see Baidu as being Google, minus about four years. As people transition from using desktop computers for their Internet searches to mobile devices, companies are paying less for each ad -- as they seem to be less effective on mobile devices.

Baidu was able to raise revenue by 40% during the first quarter, but earnings were only up 15%. That's because spending on research and development increased 83% -- mostly in an attempt to get the company's mobile strategy right. Google did the same thing years ago, and its been a great move.

What's clear is that businesses are still attracted to Baidu's advertising platform, as the number of online marketing partners increased 26% to 410,000. And unlike Google, Baidu is selling for cheap: just 13 times expected 2013 earnings. 

National Oilwell Varco
Investors need to understand what they are getting into when they invest in this stock. Because the company supplies all the equipment necessary to extract oil and natural gas and because orders for these parts can be relatively lumpy and cyclical, things don't always appear so smooth over the short term.

That's what happened this quarter, as the company disappointed with earnings. But over the long run, the company's backlog remains healthy as it increased 8% sequentially, and the rig technology division should continue to prosper from the world's aging rig fleets for years to come.

Read up on NOV

National Oilwell Varco is perhaps the safest investment in the energy sector due to its industry-dominating market share. This company is poised to profit in a big way; its customers are both increasing the number of new drilling rigs and updating aging fleets of offshore rigs. To help determine if it could be a good fit for your portfolio, you're invited to check out The Motley Fool's premium research report featuring in-depth analysis on whether National Oilwell Varco is a buy today. For instant access to this valuable investor's resource, simply click here now to claim your copy.


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