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The Smartest Stocks to Buy With $200 Right Now

By Sean Williams – Updated Oct 15, 2021 at 11:28AM

Key Points

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A relatively small amount of money invested in great businesses can generate sizable returns over the long run.

For the better part of nearly 19 months, investors have enjoyed a historic rally in the stock market. Since hitting a bear-market low in March 2020, the benchmark S&P 500 has doubled in value. In fact, it took less than 17 months for the widely followed index to accomplish this feat.

For some investors, the idea of putting money to work with the market so close to an all-time high isn't palatable. However, history has demonstrated time and again that if you buy great companies and hold onto those stakes for long periods of time, you have an excellent chance to build wealth.

Best of all, with most online brokerages eliminating commissions and ditching minimum deposit requirements, any amount of money -- even $200 -- is the perfect amount to further or start your journey toward financial independence.

If you have $200 in cash ready to be invested, which won't be needed to pay bills or cover an emergency, these are some of the smartest stocks you can buy right now.

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Ford Motor Company

The first smart stock you can add to your portfolio right now with $200 is Ford Motor Company (F 4.38%).

Traditionally, auto stocks are valued at stunningly low valuation multiples. This is a result of the slow growth associated with the auto industry, as well as the high debt levels often carried around on auto stock balance sheets. But a big shift is underway in the auto industry, and Ford could benefit in a big way.

In an effort to combat climate change, developed markets worldwide are going to be incentivizing the use of electric vehicles (EVs). With the understanding that this vehicle replacement cycle for consumers and businesses could last decades, Ford is planning to invest at least $30 billion by the midpoint of the decade to be used for EV and battery research.

Ford plans to launch 30 new EVs globally by 2025, and anticipates 40% of its global vehicle volume will be EVs by 2030. EVs represent an opportunity to sustainably increase the company's organic growth rate.

While Ford is best known as one of Detroit's top automakers, the company also has its eyes on the largest auto market in the world: China. The Society of Automotive Engineers of China has projected that by 2035, half of all vehicle sales in China will run on some form of alternative energy. Considering that Ford has a well-known global brand and the infrastructure necessary to ramp up EV production where necessary, it's a solid bet to gobble up EV market share in China.

Finally, don't overlook the company's F-Series trucks. Even though all eyes seem to be focused on economical EVs, the F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for the past 39 years. When it comes to auto sales, bigger vehicles usually yield higher vehicle margins, which is exactly the case with the F-Series.

Though it may not seem historically cheap, Ford at 8 times forward-year earnings is a bargain considering the catalysts at its doorstep.

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Image source: Getty Images.

AstraZeneca

Another smart company investors can scoop up right now with $200 is pharmaceutical stock AstraZeneca (AZN -1.09%). There are three factors that make AstraZeneca a wise addition to your portfolio.

To begin with, it's a healthcare stock, and healthcare companies are highly defensive. Since we don't get to choose when we get sick or what ailment(s) we develop, demand for drugs, devices, and healthcare services tends to continue uninterrupted regardless of how well or poorly the U.S. economy or stock market are performing. Because of the transparency associated with pharmaceutical drug demand, AstraZeneca is able to parse out a market-topping 2.3% yield.

Second, AstraZeneca's organic growth rate is an eyebrow-raiser. After two decades of underperforming Wall Street's expectations, the company's oncology and cardiovascular drug segments are firing on all cylinders. The cancer drug trio of Tagrisso, Imfinzi, and Lynparza is consistently growing year-over-year sales by a double-digit percentage, with next-generation type 2 diabetes drug Farxiga delivering 60% sales growth through the first-half of 2021. None of these four blockbuster drugs show signs of slowing anytime soon.

And third, AstraZeneca made one of the smartest acquisitions in the pharmaceutical space. In July, it closed a cash-and-stock deal to purchase ultra-rare-disease drugmaker Alexion Pharmaceuticals.  The biggest buyout in the company's history lands it a company that faces little competition in the indications it serves.

Even more important, Alexion developed a second-generation therapy for its blockbuster drug Soliris. This treatment, known as Ultomiris, is administered less frequently than Soliris, and should have an opportunity to siphon sales from Soliris over time. In other words, Alexion secured its cash flow from potential generic or biosimilar competitors for probably another decade.

With sustainable low double-digit sales growth, investors would be wise to add AstraZeneca to their portfolios.

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Image source: Getty Images.

NextEra Energy

A final smart stock investors can confidently add to their portfolios with $200 is electric utility NextEra Energy (NEE -1.63%).

To be blunt, the electric utility industry is often as exciting as watching grass grow. While utilities are almost always profitable, their growth rates are usually in the low single digits. They make up for these modest growth rates by parsing out an above-average dividend yield. But imagine if you could get the safety of a utility stock, an above-average yield, and a higher growth rate, all with one company. Say hello to NextEra Energy.

What separates NextEra from dozens of other publicly traded electric utilities is the company's focus on renewable energy. No other electric utility in the country is generating more capacity from solar or wind. And there's a very good chance it'll stay this way for the foreseeable future.

That's because NextEra is investing $50 billion to $55 billion between 2020 and 2022 in new infrastructure projects that predominantly lean toward renewable energy. While pricey, these projects are helping to significantly lower NextEra's electricity generation costs, which in turn has lifted its compound annual growth rate to the high single digits for more than a decade.

It's also worth pointing out that this is the perfect time for NextEra to be aggressive with alternative energy projects. Borrowing rates are near historic lows, and it's a smart idea for the company to stay ahead of whatever green-energy legislation might come out of Washington.

Keep in mind that NextEra does have traditional (i.e., regulated) utility operations, too. Regulated operations ensure the company isn't exposed to potentially volatile wholesale electricity pricing. This is another key component that makes the company's cash flow highly transparent.

Sporting a superior growth rate in an otherwise slow-growing sector, NextEra and its 1.9% yield are a solid buy for patient investors.

Sean Williams has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends NextEra Energy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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