Bear markets can create trying times for stock investors. People don't enjoy watching their investments drop in value. Historically speaking, though, broad sell-offs in the market have generally been the absolute best time to buy equities. Since the famed market crash of 1929, for example, there have been 26 confirmed bear markets, and stocks have rebounded sharply following every single one of these down periods in U.S. equities. Bear markets, in short, have historically been a great time to buy stocks at bargain-basement prices.

Perhaps the best part about buying stocks in the current bear market is that even modest amounts of capital, such as $3,000, could net investors fairly sizable returns once market conditions stabilize and subsequently return to their more typical bullish ways. With this theme in mind, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX -1.56%) and Steris (STE -0.65%) are two top stocks to consider buying if you have $3,000 to invest right now. Read on to find out more about these heavily discounted growth and value stocks.   

An undervalued biopharma

George Budwell (BioCryst Pharmaceuticals): BioCryst Pharmaceuticals is a mid-cap company with large-cap aspirations. The company's value proposition centers on the oral hereditary angioedema (HAE) drug Orladeyo. Since its launch a little over a year and a half ago, Orladeyo has quickly captured a fair chunk of the HAE market, thanks both to its effectiveness and ease of use as an oral medication. Speaking to this point, Orladeyo is expected to generate no less than $250 million in sales this year.

In light of this rapid adoption by HAE prescribers, BioCryst's braintrust thinks its flagship drug could top $1 billion in annual sales within a few years' time. Even so, BioCryst isn't a one-trick pony. To create even more value for shareholders, the company has also been funneling capital into the development of the oral Factor D inhibitor BCX9930, as a treatment for a rare blood disorder known as paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria. BioCryst's executives believe that BCX9930 could become an even bigger seller than Orladeyo.

What's the risk? BioCryst has already run into some safety issues with BCX9930 in the clinic, and it's not clear yet whether this drug will be able to successfully navigate a pivotal-stage trial. If not, BioCryst will have to move to one of its earlier-stage assets in the complement-mediated renal-disease space. That said, BioCryst still has a lot of room to run based solely on Orladeyo's commercial potential. Investors, therefore, probably shouldn't worry too much about the possibility of a major clinical setback in regard to BCX9930.

Why is BioCryst worth an initial investment of $1,500? As things stand now, BioCryst's shares are already deeply undervalued based purely on Orladeyo's red-hot commercial trajectory. The biotech's shares, after all, are currently valued at well under three times the drug's peak sales estimate. Historically, rare-disease companies garner premiums somewhere in the area of five to 10 times peak sales forecasts. And, longer-term, BioCryst has a real shot at bringing a second major drug to market -- whether it's BCX9930 or one of its other assets. This mid-cap biopharma stock could thus transform an initial investment of $1,500 into $6,000, or perhaps more, within the next three to five years.  

Steris is a perfect stock to buy and hold forever

Alex Carchidi (Steris): As an infection control and sterility supply business, Steris is a critical pillar of the global healthcare system. If you've ever had surgery or a dental procedure, you've probably benefited from the use of its products, which range from operating-room lighting to sterilizer devices and even antiseptic wipes. Last year, it brought in nearly $4.6 billion, and there's a very low chance that there will be declining demand for any of its sterility-enabling offerings anytime soon. Most hospitals and clinics simply can't do much of anything without sterile working areas and tools. 

And that's why management expects the company to continue to profitably grow its total revenue by between 5% to 9% per year in the long term, alongside double-digit annual rises in its earnings per share (EPS). In its 2023 fiscal year, its top-line expansion should land toward the high end of the range, even with macroeconomic headwinds in play.

Furthermore, Steris will make you richer with its dividend, which currently has a forward yield of near 1.1%, and also with its share buybacks and share appreciation. In the past 10 years, its dividend payment grew by 147.4%, which is quite favorable for a relatively low-growth business. Therefore, if you dropped $1,500 on buying its shares today, you'd start off making around $16.50 in cash per year, but in a decade's time you'd be making significantly more, especially if you build up your position a bit more over time.