It certainly hasn't been the easiest slog, but we've done it, folks. We've reached the second half of 2020, and it only took what felt like five years.
There's little question that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has completely altered the way we, and businesses, interact. We've watched more than 20 million people lose their jobs and the broad-based S&P 500 scream to a 34% loss in a matter of 33 calendar days. That's the fastest and steepest bear market correction in the stock market's history.
But even among the market's darkest days, there's always light at the end of the tunnel for long-term investors. Since the stock market found its bottom on March 23, the S&P 500 (at one point) regained more than 80% of its losses, with the technology-driven Nasdaq Composite hitting fresh all-time highs. Though the volatility has been somewhat nauseating at times, the value of long-term investing is undeniable.
Best of all, you don't need a mountain of cash to build wealth in the stock market. If you have $100 that won't be needed for emergencies or bills, you have more than enough to get started or to add to your existing positions. Here are three of the smartest stocks you can invest in right now with $100.
Let's start off with one of 2020s hottest stocks, healthcare-solutions provider Livongo Health (NASDAQ:LVGO). Through this past Monday, June 29, Livongo shares were up a cool 186% year to date, and they've bounced over 250% from their March 2020 lows.
Livongo is part of the personalized medicine movement that's designed to cater specific care to a patient's needs. In particular, Livongo's solutions help patients with chronic illnesses live healthier lives. The company does this by aggregating copious amounts of patient data and using artificial intelligence to aid in changing the behavioral habits of patients. In a May investor presentation, Livongo notes that these nudges have been helpful for more than 40% of its members.
Right now, Livongo Health's attention is almost solely focused on the diabetes market. It ended the first quarter with more than 328,000 diabetes members, which was a doubling of members from the prior-year quarter. Even with this phenomenal patient growth, Livongo hasn't even penetrated a full 1% of the 34.2 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes. With plans to also tackle hypertension, weight management, and prediabetes, Livongo's solutions could apply to well over 100 million Americans.
Amazingly, Livongo Health has already begun turning the corner to profitability. Even with aggressive reinvestment in its platform and less than 1% of diabetes penetration, it's already generating a profit. This is a high-growth stock whose potential is seemingly limitless.
Traditionally speaking, you don't think of big-time growth when you invest in mining companies. Usually, precious-metal mining stocks have significant piles of debt from developing new and existing mines, and there's a constant struggle to develop assets that are profitable. But none of these concerns are raised with SSR Mining, which has one of the best balance sheets among gold miners. Assuming its merger of equals with Alacer Gold (OTC:ALIA.F) comes to fruition, SSR should have around $200 million in net cash.
That leads to the next point: the Alacer deal. The combination of SSR Mining and Alacer will bring SSR's two top-tier gold-mining assets (Marigold in Nevada and Seabee in Canada) and Alacer's Copler mine in Turkey under one roof. The all-share deal will create a company capable of producing approximately 780,000 ounces of output per year at an all-in sustaining cost of roughly $900 an ounce. Based on a current spot price of almost $1,800 per ounce for gold, this leads to a cash operating margin of close to $900 an ounce and will produce an estimated $450 million in annual free cash flow through at least 2022.
With SSR Mining valued at less than seven times Wall Street's projected operating cash flow in 2021, it remains a bargain in the mining space.
A third smart stock to invest $100 into right now is cybersecurity play Ping Identity (NYSE:PING). Ping offers both industrywide and company-specific catalysts that make it a no-brainer to add to investors' portfolios.
On a more macro level, Ping Identity is benefiting from the guaranteed need for network and cloud protection. Although we're contending with the sharpest pullback in the U.S. economy in multiple generations, it doesn't mean that enterprises can suddenly pull back on their cloud security needs.
With more employees than ever working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be rightly argued that the need for beefed-up security solutions is greater now than it's ever been. That's a positive for all cybersecurity companies, and it creates some semblance of safety to existing cash flow.
On a more company-specific level, Ping Identity stands out for its role as an identity-verification play. Ping uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to decipher situations where two-factor authentication may be necessary before allowing an individual to access an enterprise cloud. Again, with more people than ever working from home, the demand for the identity solutions that Ping offers is going to soar.
Furthermore, the vast majority of Ping's revenue (93%) is subscription-based. Though I've noted that cloud protection has essentially become a recession-proof, basic-need service, the fact that 93% of revenue is derived from subscriptions adds an extra layer of cash flow visibility and helps to reduce customer churn.
With Ping Identity already profitable and growing sales by a healthy 15% to 20% clip per year, it should have little trouble delivering for its investors over the long run.