Several stocks and cryptos are down off their highs as markets weigh the omicron COVID-19 variant risks, inflation, valuation concerns, slowing growth, and other unknowns.

Investors looking to structure their portfolio for a successful 2022 may be looking at the metaverse, different cryptos, and the U.S. stock market. Here are some top choices worth considering now.

Two ladies working on a project together in an open room.

Image source: Getty Images.

The metaverse

Two catalysts are driving metaverse mania. The first is the real estate boom in virtual destination, Decentraland (CRYPTO:MANA). The second is Facebook changing its name to Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:FB) because it sees a lot of growth in virtual reality and virtual social networks.

There's a lot of ways to approach the metaverse conversion. But at its core, you can think of the metaverse as a new generation of the internet that bridges the gap between the physical and virtual world. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are primary drivers of this sophistication. So are worlds like Decentraland that are owned and governed by their users, not a single company. This level of freedom is attracting both users and commercial opportunities.

Aside from software, cryptos, and companies hopping into the metaverse, there is also a slew of hardware companies to invest in that are literally building the infrastructure on planet Earth that the metaverse needs to expand.

If you're interested in the metaverse, then it's an industry that could be worth following as it gains traction over time. But for most investors, it's probably best to focus on more mature industries that offer a better risk/reward profile.

Cryptocurrency

Leading cryptos are down big off their highs after last weekend's sell-off that marked one of the quickest crashes of 2021. Bitcoin (CRYPTO:BTC) is back under $50,000. And Cardano (CRYPTO:ADA), which had been underperforming its peers for months, is now down over 55% from its high.

Many cryptos are now a better value than a month ago at a lower price. But investors should bear in mind that leaders like Bitcoin, Ethereum (CRYPTO:ETH), Solana (CRYPTO:SOL), and Cardano are still all up over 65% year to date.

Bitcoin Price Chart
Data by YCharts.

However, there's an argument that the crypto market deserves to be more valuable than in years past and even has the potential to keep going up from here. Bitcoin is a viable inflation hedge that can gain relevance as more countries and companies recognize its value. Ethereum is a balanced solution that is relatively decentralized, fast, and has a controlled supply. As the network on which so many projects are built, Ethereum is arguably the best all-around crypto to buy now.

Solana is a high-growth option that the rise of NFTs has fueled. Cardano has the makings of greatness. It wants to be a third-generation blockchain that solves the scalability and energy issues currently holding back Bitcoin and Ethereum. Cardano's growth has been hindered because it is arguably too sophisticated for the market as it stands today and the existing projects built on its blockchain lack fundamental value.

The stock market

The U.S. stock market is up big in 2021, just as it was in 2020, 2019, and almost every year since the Great Recession. The stock market remains one of the best and most liquid long-term ways to build generational wealth. Yet investors wary of current valuations could do well to be selective. For example, one reason a stock market index like the S&P 500 is up so much this year is because the 10 largest stocks in the index make up nearly a third of its value -- and they are up an average of 50% each this year.

However, look closer, and investors may find that several well-known industry leaders are down substantially from their highs. One value stock that sticks out is Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS). Disney's share prices are hovering around a 52-week low as the company's studio entertainment and theme park revenue is still well off its 2019 performance. It's also suffering from slowing Disney+ growth and what looks to be years before Disney returns to the profitability it had pre-pandemic.

It's easy to fall into this glass-half-empty perspective and miss the other narrative -- Disney is a leading entertainment company, an iconic brand, and it depends on in-person experiences. So naturally, it's going to suffer big time from a global pandemic. However, this same company has launched the world's fastest-growing streaming service. It has over 118 million Disney+ subscribers just two years after launching, which is over half as many subscribers as Netflix (which has had a tremendous head start). 

The best buy now

The potential of the metaverse is undeniable, but it's also ill-defined. Instead of picking smaller companies that could succeed, most investors would probably do well to sit on the sidelines and watch the industry mature or simply buy Meta Platforms. As far as crypto goes, the idea that the industry is a bubble should be dismissed. We could be in for a prolonged crypto winter, but crypto leaders like Bitcoin and Etheruem could be great choices to dollar-cost average over time.

While some investors may be interested in adding a small portion of their portfolios to metaverse stocks or crypto, the best option is probably to buy companies you are interested in, understand, and believe are on sale now. My top stock for 2022 is Disney, and it's not even close. But there are plenty of great ideas out there.

In sum, the best buy for 2022 isn't the metaverse, crypto market, or the stock market. Instead, it's arguably blue-chip stocks that have long-term potential but are down for short-term reasons.

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.