Analysts from all corners of the industry have recently made one thing clear: Stocks aren't cheap. That might lead some individuals to believe that there aren't any stocks to buy now. But making that assumption would mean passing up a few top-tier companies that are reasonably priced today.

To find these stocks to buy now, I'll be examining the retirement portfolio that I set up in the summer of 2011. Back then, I promised to buy 10 stocks, and put at least $4,000 of my own retirement money behind each one. Since then, the market has returned 44.9%, which is fantastic by historical standards.

And yet, over the same time frame, this retirement portfolio has returned 61% -- besting the S&P 500, including dividends, by 16.1 percentage points. As it stands now, the original $40,000 investment is now worth $64,400. Here's how it's gotten there.


Publication Date


Vs. S&P 500 (Percentage Points)













Intuitive Surgical 




National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV)








Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM)











Johnson & Johnson 









All prices accurate as of Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013.

Looking toward the rest of 2013, there are a few big stories that I'll be watching. First and foremost will be how our two big retialers -- Amazon and Apple -- do over the holiday season.

Amazon has been increasing revenue like gangbusters, and I expect that trend to continue. Meanwhile, the latest versions of Apple's iPhone and iPads could be popular on many folks' holiday wishlists.

Though the company has yet to come out with The Next Big Thing since Steve Jobs passed away more than two years ago, the new iPad Air could move the revenue needle in a major way. Though Apple hasn't reported sales figures yet, Forbes contributor Chuck Jones -- using some third-party data -- estimates  that things are off to a great start. That, combined with iPhone sales abroad, could provide a nice boost for Apple shareholders.

The other thing I'll be keeping my eye on is any announcement as to when National Oilwell Varco will officially spin off its distribution business. The business, which represents about 20% of Oilwell's revenue, is a low-margin enterprise that provides oil, gas, and drilling equipment through more than 400 locations worldwide. When the spinoff occurs, I'll have to decide whether to hold the shares and how to count them in the retirement portfolio.

Two stocks to buy now
Though I'm interested to see what happens with Apple and National Oilwell Varco, neither company represents my best stocks to buy now.

Instead, I'm excited about the prospects of Whole Foods. Shares of the company are trading about 15% lower than they were before earnings came out in early November. The major concern now is that other grocers are now able to offer fresh/local/organic goods for prices that are competitive enough to take business away from Whole Foods.

While I think that is a real concern that investors should be aware of, Whole Foods is more than just a grocer. To me, this is truly one of the great companies of our day, led by a visionary CEO (John Mackey) with a focus on doing well by doing good for all interested parties -- customers, suppliers, employees, and shareholders. It is the leader of a revolution in how we relate to the food we eat.

The company now trades for 38 times earnings. That certainly isn't cheap, but the best companies rarely are.

My second stock to buy right now is Chinese search engine leader Baidu. The company's focus on expanding and monetizing its mobile offerings, while establishing itself in the largest -- and quickly growing -- Internet market gives it a bright future.

There's not a whole lot of news that's come out lately to affect my investment thesis, but Baidu now trades for just 25 times expected 2014 earnings.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Apple, Google, Johnson & Johnson,, Starbucks, Baidu, National Oilwell Varco, Whole Foods Market, Intuitive Surgical, and PriceSmart. The Motley Fool recommends PriceSmart. It recommends and owns shares of, Apple, Baidu, Google, Intuitive Surgical, Johnson & Johnson, National Oilwell Varco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods Market. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.