For many Americans, $1,000 is a nice chunk of money. If they invest it in the right company (or companies), then it could help set the stage for impressive long-term returns in the stock market. However, many are struggling to navigate the current bear market, with the S&P 500 down a staggering 22% year to date. As such, plenty of investors have seen their portfolios decline substantially in 2022. But these trying times are also an opportunity to bet on quality companies at a discount to their all-time highs. The key is to focus on realistic comeback opportunities that standout among the crowd.

Backed by strong brands and compelling strategies for sustainable success, Walmart (WMT -0.69%) and MGM Resorts International (MGM -0.14%) look like great ways to bet on a long-term rebound. (And each might even be worthy of that $1,000 mentioned earlier). With that said, let's explore why Walmart and MGM Resorts International could have a place in your investment portfolio, despite the challenges of this bear market.

1. Walmart should gain traction despite recession woes

Blue chips are America's largest and most established publicly traded companies. With over half a century of history and a massive market cap of $387 billion, Walmart is as "blue" as it gets. Despite near-term macroeconomic challenges, its recession-resistant business model and reasonable valuation make shares look like a great deal for investors. 

A dollar bill pinned to a dartboard.

Image source: Getty Images.

The U.S. inflation rate stands at 8.2% as of September, hurting consumers and retailers alike. Walmart's second-quarter revenue jumped 8.4% to $152.9 billion, partially because of inflation -- which boosted top-line numbers. But this was a double-edged sword, as operating income fell 6.8% to $6.9 billion because the sales mix trended toward lower-margin items like food and consumables. That said, Walmart isn't a growth stock, and investors should bet on its long-term resilience and stability. 

According to economists surveyed by Bloomberg, the U.S. economy has a 100% chance of entering a recession in the next 12 months. An economic downturn will likely send inflation down and encourage consumers to shop at lower-priced retailers like Walmart instead of pricier alternatives like Amazon's Whole Foods. Expect the company to maintain its revenue and profits well in this uncertain time. 

With shares down just 2.5% year to date, Walmart stock is already dramatically outperforming the S&P 500, which has fallen 22% in the same period. And with forward a price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of 22, shares still look reasonably valued compared to the market average of 19. 

2. MGM Resorts 

Known for iconic properties like the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, and the MGM Grand, MGM Resorts dominates the Las Vegas Strip. Like Walmart, the company boasts a discounted stock price. Its wide economic moat and pivot to new growth drivers position it for continued success. 

However, unlike Walmart, MGM Resorts is not necessarily a recession resistant company because tourist activity depends on people having extra money to spend. Even so, management hasn't yet seen any negative impacts on demand. And the company is somewhat shielded from inflation because many of its main cash outflows (such as building or remodeling resorts) are fixed, not variable.

The period of generally higher costs also gives the company room to increase its rates with less consumer pushback. And it has bounced back tremendously from the initial threat induced by the coronavirus pandemic. (Lockdowns and movement restrictions eased and pent up demand for entertainment sent tourists flooding back to their usual hotspots).

Second-quarter net revenue jumped 44% to $3.3 billion, and operating income soared almost tenfold to $2.4 billion. This comes amid a surge of interest in Las Vegas, where sales are 146% higher than in 2019 (before the pandemic). MGM's iconic properties give it brand recognition and a strong moat in this crucial market, and it is bolstering its position by acquiring additional assets, such as The Cosmopolitan, which MGM purchased for $1.63 billion in May. 

With a price of $32, MGM Resorts stock has fallen roughly 29% year to date, despite strong performance in 2022. The dip may already price-in the possibility of a recession in the future. And management is taking advantage of the opportunity to buy back its stock -- repurchasing 1.1 billion shares (8% of the total shares outstanding) in the second quarter. Buybacks can be great news for investors because they increase the fundamental value of their shares relative to earnings and cashflow. They also give a company the option to reissue the stock (to raise capital) at a higher price in the future.