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These 3 Stocks Could Turn Your $600 Stimulus Check Into Much More

By Howard Smith - Dec 29, 2020 at 6:55AM

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These stocks offer a mix of speculation and steady growth.

Stimulus checks will be going out to many Americans soon. Some people that qualify live comfortably on a modest salary, and aren't in debt. If your income has held up through the coronavirus crisis and you're still receiving a stimulus check, you can use it to help build your nest egg through investing, as long as more immediate financial needs are already covered. 

The most reliable long-term portfolios contain stocks from a diverse array of sectors. If your debts are paid off and you have a fully loaded emergency fund, here are three stocks to consider buying that range from speculation to a more defensive play.

A hand is pulling $100 bills out of an envelope.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. EnWave 

EnWave ( NWVCF -0.27% ) uses a patented dehydration technology to replace freeze drying or air drying for a faster, high-quality drying process, allowing its customers to get their products to market sooner. The low temperature Radiant Energy Vacuum (REV) dehydration system is used in food and pharmaceutical applications. 

The company continues to grow its sales and customer base for these applications. EnWave's current business is dominated by its NutraDried Moon Cheese dried-cheese snack product that can be ordered online or found in retail chains like Costco ( COST 0.65% ). NutraDried sales represented more than 80% of revenue in the last two quarters. But its potential use in the cannabis industry is what gives this stock its biggest return potential.

The company continues to sign royalty-bearing agreements for customers to purchase EnWave's REV machines, which will bring ongoing revenue streams. Since September, the company has announced eight new royalty-bearing licensing or machine sale agreements, including its first for cannabis processing in the U.S.

EnWave isn't currently profitable, but reported breaking even in its fiscal fourth quarter ended Sept. 30, 2020. As of Dec. 21, the company has $18 million in cash on its balance sheet, which it said leaves it in a position "to advance the expansion of the global deployment of Radiant Energy Vacuum technology." In its latest earnings release, EnWave management said, "Our strategies have shifted away from preservation and we have returned to aggressively pursuing growth."

The business is growing, even outside the cannabis sector. But an investment here is still a bet that the legalization of marijuana will expand in the U.S. and around the world. If it does, EnWave investors should win this speculative bet.

Worker doing diagnostic lab testing.

Image source: Getty Images.

2. Meridian Bioscience

Somewhat further down the risk ladder for investors is Meridian Bioscience ( VIVO -0.81% ). The company is a diagnostics and life-sciences company that does large-scale manufacturing of reagents, antibodies, viral antigens, proteins, and enzymes to advance the development of diagnostic assays. It's been in business for more than 40 years. 

Meridian nearly doubled revenue from its life-sciences segment in the fourth quarter ended Sept. 30 versus the year-ago period because it supplies reagents used in diagnostic testing for COVID-19. The company also announced this month that it has submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) for its own molecular diagnostic test on its Revogene platform for the virus that causes COVID-19. Revogene is a molecular testing instrument allowing healthcare workers a fast and flexible on-site testing method for infections including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Meridian shares had crashed in 2019 when the company suspended its long-standing dividend policy "in order to deploy cash into new product development activities for the Revogene molecular diagnostics platform among other investments." Progress on its investment strategy was amplified when the pandemic emerged. Some of the gains related to the company's coronavirus-related business have already been made. The stock is up about 107% year to date to about $20 per share.

Even with the rollout of vaccines, Meridian is in a good position because it has strengthened its business in other areas. Prior to 2019, the company had a dividend policy setting a payout ratio of between 75% and 85% of each fiscal year's expected net earnings. With the company's investments such as the Revogene platform already approved for use with several types of infections, including Strep, it's possible that management will reinstate a dividend policy. If that happens, the stock will likely react positively, and investors will also be rewarded with a new income stream. 

3. McCormick

The least risky of this basket of stocks is spice and flavorings maker, McCormick ( MKC 1.76% ). Restaurants, grocers, and their suppliers have been particularly affected by closures and changes in consumer habits due to the pandemic. That turmoil has revealed that McCormick was well-positioned before the crisis, and that it should continue to be for the next market crash and recession. 

McCormick operates a consumer segment, as well as a flavor-solutions group that's geared toward restaurants and packaged-food companies. When the company's flavor-solutions sales suffered with lower demand from restaurants and commercial food service customers, its consumer segment picked up the slack. In its third quarter ended Aug. 31, 2020, flavor-solutions revenue decreased 3% compared to the year-ago period, but its consumer-segment sales increased 15%. McCormick also announced plans to acquire the Cholula hot sauce brand in November.

Every portfolio should have a range of diverse holdings. McCormick can fit into your basket and provide some protection against the next inevitable economic downturn. Shares are down almost 10% from its recent September highs to about $90, so now isn't a bad time to open a position.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

McCormick & Company, Incorporated Stock Quote
McCormick & Company, Incorporated
$88.54 (1.76%) $1.53
Costco Wholesale Corporation Stock Quote
Costco Wholesale Corporation
$528.93 (0.65%) $3.42
Meridian Bioscience, Inc. Stock Quote
Meridian Bioscience, Inc.
$19.60 (-0.81%) $0.16
EnWave Stock Quote
$0.71 (-0.27%) $0.00

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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