Stock splits don't change the underlying value of a publicly traded company. But they do make it easier for investors to buy the stock, as well as make nominal swings in the stock price feel less dramatic.

In March, Amazon's (AMZN 0.83%) board of directors voted for a 20-for-1 stock split. On May 25, at the company's annual shareholder meeting, shareholders will have a chance to vote on the stock split. If approved, Amazon should initiate its stock split after market close on Friday, June 3, and then open on June 6 (Monday morning) at its new price. At Amazon's current price of roughly $2,150 per share at the time of this writing, that would make the post-split price $107 per share. 

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Investors looking to put $500 to work in a beginner basket of stocks would do well to consider Amazon for that basket, especially with a stock split looming. They might also want to consider Apple (AAPL -0.60%), Nike (NKE -1.62%), and Walt Disney (DIS 0.33%). Like Amazon, these stocks are currently trading at a discount (between 24% and 49%) from their all-time highs. Assuming Amazon's split goes through, an investor should be able to buy one share of each company for under $500 in total. Here's what makes these four top stocks a great buy now.

1. Amazon: AWS with a cherry on top

Amazon's stock price is lower now than it was two years ago. Yet there's every reason to believe the business is in its best shape ever.

Amazon's e-commerce business often takes center stage in the public eye. And while it may be Amazon's primary source of revenue, it's far from its main source of profit. The main source is actually Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company's cloud infrastructure division. AWS continues to grow at a breakneck pace and features an operating margin above 30%. AWS' growth paired with its profitability makes it arguably worth $1 trillion all on its own, while Amazon's market cap is currently around $1.1 trillion. Throw in the rest of Amazon's business, and Amazon stock -- down over 40% from its all-time high -- looks like a bargain.

AMZN Chart

AMZN data by YCharts

2. Apple: A stock that's finally a good value

Apple is a rare example of a stock that has crushed the broader market over the last few years yet still isn't overpriced. Yes, the 25% drawdown from its high certainly makes Apple more attractive. But it's really the company's buybacks and bottom-line growth that make it such a compelling value.

Apple's successful penetration into multiple consumer electronic product categories paired with its services business strengthens its ability to retain and grow existing customers as well as attract new customers. Today Apple is a leader in mobile phones, laptops, desktops, tablets, digital watches, and headphones.

Since Apple controls both its hardware and its software, it's better able to integrate these products together through iCloud data storage and keychains. In sum, Apple is an incredibly well-run business that is also an attractively priced stock trading at a price-to-earnings ratio of less than 23. 

3. Nike: A global brand with a booming business

Nike's partnerships with star athletes improve its influence as the world's leading athletic apparel brand. The story behind Nike the last few years has been its ability to grow net income at a faster pace than revenue thanks to its rising operating margin. This chart says it all.

NKE Revenue (TTM) Chart

NKE Revenue (TTM) data by YCharts

Over the last 10 years, Nike's revenue has roughly doubled -- which is a mediocre growth rate. But during that time frame, its net income is up 177%, and its operating margin is now 15.2%, compared to the 10-year median of 13.1%. Nike's aggressive spending is working and making the business more profitable than ever before. Nike isn't a cheap stock. But it's a world-class brand and an excellent business. Down 39% from its high, Nike looks like a great buy now.

4. Walt Disney: Don't sleep on this media mogul

Disney stock has been cut nearly in half from its all-time high as the company struggles to gain its footing against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Disney has had a rough go of it as of late for factors outside of its control. After posting record box office figures in 2019, Disney's movie business ground to a halt in 2020 and 2021. But with a jam-packed slate of potential blockbuster hits in the queue for 2022, Disney could rebound its movie business nicely this year.

What's more, the parks business continues to show it has returned close to its pre-pandemic levels, while Disney+ is surpassing all growth estimates. Unfortunately for investors, Disney still seems to find itself in "prove it" mode. It has yet to have a year where the parks and experiences, the movie business, linear networks, and direct-to-consumer business units are all succeeding at the same time. What's more, Disney+ still isn't profitable and isn't expected to be profitable until Disney's fiscal 2024. This presents a good amount of uncertainty. But for investors that believe in Disney's ability to grow over time and eventually kick all of its business segments into high gear, the stock looks like a bargain now.

Keep it simple

It is never easy to be a buyer in a bear market. To make it easier on beginner investors, I think it makes the most sense to stick mostly with name-brand companies that have reputations for multi-decade growth. Apple, Amazon, Nike, and Disney are all leaders in their respective industries.

We don't know how long this bear market will last or how much further stock prices could go. But I would argue that there's a very good chance that all four of these companies will be quite a bit more valuable 10 years from now than they are today.