The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices both reached a fresh all-time high just before I sat down to write this, meaning that the broader stock market has completely shaken off the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But that doesn't mean that there aren't still some great long-term bargains out there.
If you have $5,000 available and are looking for ways to put it to work, now could be a great opportunity to look for value in the stock market. Here are three stocks that look extremely attractive at their current prices.
STORE Capital (NYSE:STOR) is a net-lease real estate investment trust (REIT) that focuses on single-tenant (freestanding) properties occupied by tenants primarily in the retail and service industries. The stock has been beaten down because about one-third of the portfolio is occupied by industries that have been hard hit by the pandemic (think restaurants and movie theaters, for example).
However, 93% of STORE's tenants are now reopened, and the company just reported that it collected 86% of its billed rent in both July and August. In short, this rock-solid REIT doesn't deserve to be trading for 35% less than its pre-COVID highs.
Pinterest (NYSE:PINS) has actually performed quite well since the pandemic started but could still have room to climb. The company grew its active user base by 39% year over year after posting its best growth ever in the second quarter and has just started to embrace its massive potential in the world of e-commerce. While its 416 million monthly active users may sound like a lot (and it is), when you consider that Facebook has 2.7 billion, Pinterest doesn't seem quite as mature of a business as you might have thought.
Finally, Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) looks like an extremely attractive value right now. Although the pandemic will certainly pressure the bank's profitability in the near term, this well-run institution has done an excellent job of improving its asset quality and efficiency. In the pre-COVID world, it had been generating returns that would have seemed unbelievable just a few years prior.
Bank of America actually trades for about 10% less than the book value of its shares and could be worth a look. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett seems to agree -- he recently spent $2 billion to add to Berkshire Hathaway's Bank of America investment, and now owns close to a 12% stake in the bank.
Open (or contribute to) an IRA
If you have an extra $5,000 and you're eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA or take advantage of the traditional IRA tax deduction, that could be your best course of action. For the 2020 tax year, Americans are allowed to contribute as much as $6,000 to an IRA ($7,000 for investors 50 or older), so a $5,000 sum would get you pretty close to maxing it out. If you aren't familiar, once you add money to an IRA, you can invest in virtually any stocks (such as the three mentioned earlier), bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs.
The tax benefits are the big reason to consider investing through an IRA. In fact, this is why I max out my retirement account each year before putting any money into my standard (taxable) brokerage account. With a traditional IRA, you may be eligible to deduct your entire contribution on your 2020 tax return. And once the money is invested, you won't pay any dividend or capital gains taxes -- your only tax liability will come when you eventually withdraw money from the account. In a Roth IRA, you don't get a current-year tax deduction, but any qualified withdrawals will be tax-free, no matter how much your investments have grown.
Now is a great time to combine bargain stocks with valuable tax advantages
Over a lifetime of investing, the tax benefits of an IRA can be worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. While now is a great time to look for long-term bargains in the stock market, it's a really good time to combine some excellent stock market bargains with the valuable tax advantages of IRA investing.