The market is presenting investors with an abundance of bargain buys right now, and for those with money to put into their portfolio, now could be a prime time to take advantage of these discounted stocks. If you are looking to build out your portfolio as you start the new year, there's certainly no shortage of wonderful companies that are veritable steals right now.

Let's take a look at two of them. 

1. Upstart

Calls for the democratization of the lending industry have been a long time coming. For years, many have felt that the long-adhered-to FICO-based model -- used to determine whether or not to approve consumers for loans -- not only left considerable money on the table but could be cutting out large swathes of the potentially creditworthy population. This created a significant opportunity to improve upon the traditional lending industry dynamics, and Upstart (UPST -4.81%) has answered that call. 

Founded just over a decade ago, Upstart's mission is to completely upend the way loan applications are reviewed, assessed, and approved. The company doesn't cut FICO scores out of the picture completely, but these are used along with a wide range of other factors, such as the applicant's job history and where they live, to make a final determination for a loan application.

And because Upstart's platform relies on cutting-edge AI and machine learning algorithms to reach loan decisions, this not only increases the likelihood that the platform can form a more accurate gauge of an applicant's risk of default but also opens up the world of credit to entirely new groups of consumers who had previously been omitted from the lending market.

A recent company study found that Upstart's model approves over 43% more borrowers than the traditional FICO-based model. Right now, investors are primarily focused on the challenging dynamics of the lending market, which is seeing elevated interest rates and higher defaults than in previous periods.

However, Upstart's proprietary model is ideally poised to deal with these challenges and is constantly learning and attuning to the changes presented by the lending environment at large. Right now, that means loan volumes are down, and interest rates on approved loans are higher. But management said in the most recent quarterly report that Upstart's model had improved as much in the prior four months as it had in the entire last two years. 

While overall loan volume is down, Upstart is still seeing progress on key fronts. For example, in the most recent quarter, small business loans -- a newer product offering -- saw volume rise by four times on a quarter-over-quarter basis. Upstart is continuing to improve and refine its auto retail software for dealers, and now its auto lending products are live at three retail groups in four states, capturing roughly one-quarter of the entire auto market nationwide. 

Upstart is just getting started in its journey as a business. While short-term contractions in loan volumes could spell more painful quarters ahead, the durability of its platform can continue to adjust to the changing environment and fuel the company further. 

2. Pinterest

At its core, Pinterest (PINS -0.19%) is an advertising giant disguised as a social media stock. However, the company is anything but your run-of-the-mill social media brand. The unique design and layout of its platform give it a competitive flair that even the most well-known social media companies could be said to lack. 

Rather than constantly pummeling consumers with a sea of information and readable posts that they need to view and absorb, Pinterest's platform is designed primarily around visual content only. From images to videos, Pinterest's photo-sharing model makes it a user-friendly space where consumers can go to get inspiration around just about any topic without dealing with the same cacophony of data that users tend to be subjected to on other popular platforms. 

It's not a networking site like Meta Platform's Instagram or Facebook, and it appeals to a very different set of consumer needs. Pinterest is the type of platform that's highly scrollable without being overwhelming, and it tends to draw and retain user eyeballs in a way that the average social media site might not. This creates an abundant opportunity for businesses looking to advertise to expand their addressable target audience in virtually any industry or product category. 

Pinterest's ads come in the form of clickable photos or videos that users can "pin" or save to inspiration boards to come back to at a later date, or even choose to buy the product by clicking the image and going straight to the merchant's website. Let's say someone is searching for inspiration for holiday decor. They'll likely find not only a bunch of great images that fit what they're looking for but also product they can actually purchase.

Does this model work? Well, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. In fact, Pinterest ads are over two times more efficient cost-wise at converting customers than traditional social media ads; at the same time, they deliver a return on ad spending for retail brands that's twice as much as the average social media campaign.

Pinterest is starting to see an uptick in user growth again (the most recent quarter saw it report 445 million monthly active users globally), while revenue is rising. A pullback in ad spending in the current macro environment may continue to impact Pinterest's growth, and notably, its bottom line, in the quarters ahead.

Over the long term, though, the competitive edge of its platform, which has few direct rivals, makes it an advertising powerhouse that brands should continue to flock to for a long time to come. Buy-and-hold investors can capitalize on this tech stock's growth story in the next bull market