When the curtain closes on 2022 in less than four weeks, it'll likely go down as one of the toughest years in history for investors. The bond market has trudged through its worst year ever while the broad-based S&P 500, which is typically viewed as an all-encompassing barometer of stock market health, produced its worst first-half return since 1970.

Yet there's a silver lining to this mess -- at least for long-term investors. Despite the S&P 500 enduring 39 double-digit percentage declines since the beginning of 1950, every single one, save for the current bear market, was eventually cleared away by a bull market rally. In other words, bear markets are the ideal time to put your money to work.

Three rolled up one hundred dollar bills set on their side and lined up in a neat row.

Image source: Getty Images.

Perhaps the best thing about today's stock market is that it's freer and fairer than at any point in history. Since most online brokerages have done away with commission fees and minimum deposit requirements, any amount of money -- even $300 -- can be the perfect amount to put to work.

If you have $300 to invest -- that won't be used to pay bills or cover emergencies -- buying these four sensational stocks would be a smart end-of-year decision.

Walt Disney

The first smart way to put $300 to work right now would be to buy shares of media stock Walt Disney (DIS -0.62%). Shares of Disney have been hurt by weaker theme-park attendance and lower film revenue tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as steeper-than-anticipated losses as it ramps up its streaming services. Thankfully, none of these headwinds have anything to do with long-term consumer demand shifts.

What Walt Disney brings to the table for investors is unsurpassed customer engagement within the entertainment space. Disney has successfully raised its prices and outpaced inflation for decades because it can easily cross generational gaps to connect with people. The company's characters and content aren't duplicable, which fueled decades of outperformance.

Equally important is that the company is looking to the future. Walt Disney closed out its fiscal 2022 year (ended Oct. 1, 2022) with over 164 million Disney+ subscribers and more aggregate subs, including ESPN+ and Hulu, than Netflix. In fact, it's taken Disney+ less than three years to reach its current subscriber count. By 2024, streaming should be a profitable segment for the company.

Lastly, former CEO Bob Iger is back in the saddle. Iger oversaw Disney's acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, and Lucasfilm, which transformed and enhanced an already rich content library. With Iger at the helm, Walt Disney should have no trouble regaining its former glory.

NextEra Energy

A second sensational stock that would make for a rock-solid buy with $300 is NextEra Energy (NEE 1.43%), the nation's largest electric utility stock by market cap. Although higher bond yields have made utility stocks less attractive in 2022, NextEra has demonstrated for years that it's the cream of the crop among electric utilities.

NextEra Energy's not-so-subtle secret to success is its all-in focus on renewable energy. No utility company in the world is generating more capacity from wind or solar power. With over a decade of ultra-low lending rates, NextEra used debt to its advantage to finance this energy transformation. As a result, the company's electricity generation costs have fallen, and its adjusted earnings per share have grown by annualized 8.4% over 15 years. For context, most electric utility stocks grow by a low-single-digit percentage annually.

Understand that NextEra's investments in a green future are far from over. The company plans to deploy more than $6 billion in Florida over the next four years to install 30 million solar panels. When it was announced in 2019, this "30-by-30" initiative was expected to be ready by 2030. But it'll be reducing electricity generation costs years earlier than expected.

As a final note, NextEra Energy benefits from predictability. Homeowners' and renters' electricity consumption habits don't change much from year to year, allowing the company to confidently put its capital to work without worrying about compromising its dividend or profitability.

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Image source: Getty Images.

Meta Platforms

A third phenomenal stock that makes for a genius end-of-year buy with $300 is social media behemoth Meta Platforms (META 2.60%).

Meta's biggest hurdle is that it generates over 98% of its revenue from ads, and the U.S. economy began 2022 with back-to-back quarters of gross domestic product declines. In short, recessionary fears coupled with huge losses from the company's metaverse operating segment (Reality Labs) have skeptics worried. However, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of the skeptics -- especially given Meta's assets and balance sheet.

Despite short-term fears that a recession could take shape, the company's four prized social media assets -- Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger -- are consistently among the most-downloaded apps globally. What's more, Meta's family of apps had 3.71 billion unique monthly visitors during the third quarter. With more than half of the world's adult population visiting at least one of its owned sites each month, it won't be hard for the company to extract a premium price from advertisers during long-winded bull markets.

The other consideration with Meta Platforms is that its free cash flow and balance sheet allow it to take risks other social media providers don't have the privilege of taking. When September came to an end, Meta had $31.9 billion in net cash. When coupled with the ongoing profits from advertising, this is more than enough to allow the company to be aggressive with its metaverse investments.

Meta remains historically inexpensive at roughly 15 times Wall Street's forward-year profit forecast.

CrowdStrike Holdings

The fourth sensational stock that would make for a rock-solid end-of-year buy with $300 is cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings (CRWD -4.68%). Despite getting walloped last week following the release of its fiscal third-quarter operating results, CrowdStrike has the tools and competitive advantages investors look for in winning stocks.

CrowdStrike's big advantage stems from its artificial intelligence (AI)-driven cybersecurity platform called Falcon. Falcon oversees about one trillion events per day and, with each passing event, is growing smarter at recognizing and responding to potential end-user threats. Even though CrowdStrike's platform is costlier than others, its gross retention rate has steadily climbed, signifying that its services are finding the mark with subscribers.

Perhaps just as important is that CrowdStrike's subscribers have been purchasing additional services for years. When fiscal 2017 came to a close, the company had 450 subscribers, and a single-digit percentage of those subs were purchasing at least four cloud-module subscriptions. Less than six years later, it's surpassed 21,000 subscribing customers, with 60% of those subs purchasing as least five or more cloud-module subscriptions. Adding new customers is great, but having existing clients consistently grow their spend by 20% or more annually is the real key to CrowdStrike's success.

If you need one more good reason to invest in CrowdStrike, consider the evolution of the cybersecurity industry over a quarter of a century. What was once a luxury has become a basic necessity for businesses of all sizes in any economic environment. With businesses steadily moving their data online and into the cloud, there's going to be persistent demand and steady cash flow waiting for CrowdStrike.