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3 Bargain Stocks You Can Buy Today

By David Jagielski - Dec 31, 2020 at 7:02AM

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They are trading at low multiples and can generate some great growth next year.

Whether you're buying day-to-day goods or investing in stocks, price will likely play an important role in your decision-making process. For stocks, the price you pay can ultimately dictate whether you'll make a good return or incur a loss -- especially if you buy an investment near its peak. A good way to gauge value is by using ratios to determine if a stock is a good buy or not.

Three stocks that look like bargains compared to their peers right now are Gilead Sciences ( GILD 0.22% )Big Lots ( BIG 2.49% ), and Intel ( INTC 3.10% ). Investors could set themselves up for some great long-term returns by investing in these companies today. Let's take a closer look at why they are good buys going into next year.

Businessman jumping on growing chart with sky background.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Gilead

Gilead was a promising stock earlier in the year when its remdesivir drug looked like it could play a pivotal role in containing the spread of COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it for emergency use authorization (EUA) to treat COVID-19 patients in May, and in October the agency granted it full authorization. Hospitals can administer the drug to patients with COVID-19 who are at least 12 years of age.

But with vaccines now on the way and the World Health Organization telling doctors not to use remdesivir because it has doubts about the drug's effectiveness, Gilead's stock has lost a lot of the appeal it had earlier in the year.

Today, the stock trades at around $57, which is nowhere near the high of $85.97 it reached in 2020. Year to date, shares of the healthcare stock are down 12% while the S&P 500 has risen by more than 15%. The stock is trading at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of less than nine. That's a dirt cheap valuation when you consider the average stock in the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund trades at more than 24 times its earnings. 

Although remdesivir may be losing fans, the drug will still likely give Gilead's top line a boost as it remains the first FDA-approved treatment for COVID-19. It's not the only option out there -- Regeneron's antibody cocktail is also permitted to treat COVID-19 patients (on an emergency use basis) as is Eli Lilly's antibody therapy, bamlanivimab. Both treatments received emergency use authorizations for patients with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.

With a low stock price and the California-based company likely getting a boost from remdesivir as cases of COVID-19 continue to rise, Gilead could be an underrated stock to put into your portfolio today.

2. Big Lots

Another cheap investment to buy is Big Lots stock. The discount retailer is an appealing company to invest in because consumers are likely to remain on tight budgets for the foreseeable future due to the pandemic. Big Lots sells a variety of products, from toys to groceries to day-to-day household items, and the store can be a great alternative to other big-box retailers where prices are likely higher.

On Dec. 4, the company reported its third-quarter earnings for the period ending Oct. 31, with comparable-store sales up an impressive 17.8% year over year. Driven by strong e-commerce demand, the company's diluted per-share earnings of $0.76 came in well above the top end of its guidance, which ranged from $0.50 to $0.70. Big Lots is likely to continue to benefit well into next year from people staying at home and looking for ways to save on their purchases.

Currently trading at just three times its earning and 1.3 times its book value, the Ohio-based business is an absolute bargain, especially given the growth it's been generating of late. By comparison, the big-box discount wholesaler Costco is currently trading at more than 37 times its earnings over the past 12 months.

What's incredible is that Big Lots is still a cheap buy despite skyrocketing more than 53% in 2020, and more great returns could be on the way next year.

3. Intel

For a third stock to diversify and round out your portfolio, Intel makes for a great option. The California-based tech stock is only trading at a P/E of nine, which is well below the 34 times earnings that a top stock on the Nasdaq typically trades for these days.

In the third-quarter earnings results that Intel reported on Oct. 22 for the period ending Sept. 26, sales of $18.3 billion were down a modest 4% year over year. However, the company's business exceeded its own expectations as the pandemic has negatively impacted operations in 2020.

One area that could be due to rebound in a big way is Intel's Internet of Things (IoT) division, which helps connect devices to the internet. The segment generated $677 million in Q3 and was down 33% from the prior-year period. As businesses focus more on the digital world and staying connected from anywhere, the IoT business is likely to see a lot more growth in the future, perhaps as early as next year if things get back to normal sooner rather than later. One estimate has the market growing to a value of $1.5 trillion by 2030, up from $465 billion in 2019.

With some terrific growth prospects and technology playing more of a role in business due to the pandemic, Intel's bargain price today makes the stock look like an incredible long-term buy. Year to date, its shares are down 21% but investors shouldn't expect those losses to continue for much longer.

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

Gilead Sciences, Inc. Stock Quote
Gilead Sciences, Inc.
$69.65 (0.22%) $0.15
Intel Corporation Stock Quote
Intel Corporation
$52.57 (3.10%) $1.58
Costco Wholesale Corporation Stock Quote
Costco Wholesale Corporation
$542.02 (1.65%) $8.82
Eli Lilly and Company Stock Quote
Eli Lilly and Company
$245.11 (-0.49%) $-1.22
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$635.09 (1.61%) $10.09
Big Lots, Inc. Stock Quote
Big Lots, Inc.
$44.91 (2.49%) $1.09
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund Stock Quote
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund
$132.80 (1.29%) $1.69

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

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