One year ago this week, I introduced the last of the 10 stocks that made up The World's Greatest Retirement Portfolio. This was, has been, and will continue to be my way of helping the world to invest better. Putting my money where my mouth is, I pledged to put at least $4,000 behind each stock and attempt to hold each one for at least three years.
Since that day one year ago, the market has returned 9.2% -- not bad at all by historical measures. But this portfolio has lived up to its moniker as the "World's Greatest," far outperforming the broader market.
I'll show you why it's doing so well, offer up three stocks that I think are excellent buys right now, and offer access to a premium report focusing on what's arguably our generation's most successful company.
Vs. S&P 500 (Percentage Points)
National Oilwell Varco
|Whole Foods Market||7/5/11||44.8%||40|
|Johnson & Johnson||8/1/11||11.5%||3|
This sets a high-water mark for the portfolio, as the $40,000 invested has grown to $50,440 -- beating the market by an admittedly surprising 19 percentage points.
There's no doubt the past month was a banner one for this portfolio, as we're right in the middle of earnings season. Only PriceSmart and Activision have yet to report -- and they'll be doing so this month. There's no way I could cover all of the releases here, as the other eight companies came out with earnings in July.
But by far the one that got the most press was Apple. Though the company missed earnings and dropped thereafter, the stock has already made up the post-earnings losses, rising almost 7% in the past week. I still like Apple a lot, but it didn't make this month's best buys. Take a look and see who did.
Best buys right now
The first company up I think you should consider is Intuitive Surgical. The company, which makes the daVinci Surgical Robot that allows for minimally invasive procedures, clocked in revenue and earnings growth of 26% and 30%, respectively. At the same time, operating expenses grew by only 16% -- a great sign for long-term profitability.
Still, the stock is down more than 10% since this news came out -- primarily on concerns with slowing procedure growth in Europe resulting from austerity. Those fears are definitely warranted, but only for the short-term investor. In the long run, the company looks as healthy as ever, especially with 58% of revenue now coming from recurring purchases.
National Oilwell Varco comes in second on my best-buy list. The company beat on both earnings and revenue expectations and showed impressive growth in the rig technology backlog. There's no doubt we need alternatives to fossil fuels, but I doubt the entire world will figure that out by tomorrow. In the meantime, National Oilwell is a safe bet for the rising price of oil and the aging rig fleets throughout the world.
Finally, Google didn't disappoint with its earnings release, posting 21% revenue growth. More important, the company also explained how mobile isn't necessarily eating away at standard searches on lap-and-desktop computers.
Today, the stock is trading for just 16 times earnings and 16 times free cash flow -- both more than fair prices for such a well-run company. I simply think a lot of analysts are being cautious when it comes to Google because they can't see what it'll be in 10 years. I'll admit, I don't have a crystal ball, either, but I believe in the company's leadership, and I'm comfortable with its chances for success.
You might think it was odd of me to leave Apple out of my list, given its even more enticing multiples that it's trading for. If you'd like a more thorough run-down of the company's strengths and weaknesses, I invite you to check out our premium report on Apple, available only for an exclusive time. Inside, you'll be able to get access to yearlong analysis of the company by our top technology expert. Get your copy today!
Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns all of the shares mentioned in this piece. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by TMFStoffel. The Motley Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola, Google, Johnson & Johnson, National Oilwell Varco, Whole Foods Market, Apple, Amazon.com, Intuitive Surgical, and Activision Blizzard. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Coca-Cola, Apple, Amazon.com, Intuitive Surgical, Activision Blizzard, PriceSmart, National Oilwell Varco, Whole Foods Market, Google, and Johnson & Johnson, creating a diagonal call position in Johnson & Johnson, creating a synthetic long position in Activision Blizzard, and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.