It's been an ugly year for the stock market. The S&P 500Nasdaq Composite, and Dow Jones Industrial Average have lost 16%, 28%, and 6%, respectively, year to date. For the Nasdaq, it's the worst performance since the index fell 41% in 2008.

Yet, as seasoned investors know, down years are the exception, not the norm. So, what stocks are worth owning right now? Here are two companies poised to lead the way higher.

Wood blocks reading '2023', with stacks of coins on top.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Deere

Farm, forestry, and construction machinery maker Deere & Company (DE -0.57%) has delivered a solid 2022, with a 27% year-to-date return, even as the overall market has struggled.

Deere recently reported excellent fiscal fourth-quarter earnings (the three months ending Oct. 29), highlighted by a record $15.5 billion in quarterly revenue. That's up 43% from a year ago and represents the highest revenue growth for the company going back to the 1980s.

DE Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) Chart

DE Revenue (Quarterly YoY Growth) data by YCharts

A surge in demand has allowed the company to raise prices aggressively. Higher prices for agricultural products and increased infrastructure spending in the U.S is driving demand.

As for the first, you have probably experienced it firsthand at the grocery store. Eggs cost more, milk costs more -- it seems as if everything costs more. And some of those higher prices have translated into more money in farmers' pockets, which they can spend on new equipment.

The second driver of Deere's revenue growth is last year's infrastructure spending bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law allocates over $1.2 trillion for roads, bridges, airports, waterways, public transit, and more. All those improvements will require machinery, with Deere a clear beneficiary.

Wall Street has taken notice. More than two dozen analysts have raised their earnings per share (EPS) estimates for Deere in the last 30 days. The consensus estimate for 2023 full-year EPS is $27.82, with 2024 EPS rising to $29.55. Meanwhile, revenue is expected to grow 12% to $53.5 billion next year.

Those estimates still sound conservative to me. I think Deere's business will remain robust in 2023 thanks to the ongoing effects of the infrastructure spending bill.

2. Foot Locker

Unlike Deere, which outperformed the market indexes in 2022, Foot Locker (FL 3.15%) was a laggard. But I think it's ready for a turnaround in 2023, thanks to some new leadership.

In August, Mary Dillon was named the new CEO, effective in January 2023. Dillon was CEO of Ulta Beauty from 2013 until 2021. During that time, she made Ulta investors very happy by tripling its revenue and market cap.

At Foot Locker, Dillon will likely continue the plan to diversify the company's vendor relationships. Historically, Foot Locker has relied heavily on Nike, with over 75% of company revenue in 2020 coming from sales of Nike products. Earlier this year, retiring CEO Dick Johnson announced plans to ensure no vendor accounts for more than 55% of company revenue. 

FL Chart

FL data by YCharts

And while some investors clearly didn't like the idea of the company decoupling from Nike (shares fell almost 30% on the news), Foot Locker's long-term prospects depend on the move. Nike is selling more products on a direct-to-consumer (DTC) basis, and Foot Locker can't be held hostage to one supplier -- even one as important as Nike.

I'm optimistic that Dillon is the perfect CEO for the assignment. She'll need to keep Foot Locker's core customers (sneaker enthusiasts) happy while bringing new customers into the fold. If her success at Ulta is any guide, I think Foot Locker could soar in 2023.