5 Stocks to Buy Before the End of the Fiscal Year

A little more than a year ago, I started touting the real-money stock picks from our team of analysts. Specifically, I focused on five defensive picks our analysts have made in the face of an uncertain market. Those five picks have gone on to return 17%, outpacing the market by 6 percentage points.

Since then, our analysts have continued to make real-time, real-money stock picks for the world to see. By my count, the last two weeks have seen an astonishing 16 purchases by our analysts. Below, I'll highlight five of those picks and offer a special free report on three stocks for your retirement portfolio.

Arcos Dorados (NYS: ARCO)
The team of Matthew Argersinger and Paul Chi first introduced readers to the McDonald's of Latin America in February. Now they're going back for more.

The main thesis behind this second serving can be summed up pretty simply: The stock is cheap. Matthew concedes that Arcos has been caught in the perfect storm of emerging markets getting hit hard over the past few months, but he doesn't think Arcos deserves the shellacking it's been taking.

"Earnings were up 20% and the company is accelerating store growth ... [Arcos Dorados] could very easily grow by 20-25%, earnings wise, over the next 10 years," Matthew argues. At today's price of $14.50 per share, it's a long-term steal.

Facebook (NAS: FB)
Believe it or not, after all the hullabaloo about this company's IPO, our team of Dave Meier and John Reeves are buying Facebook. And this isn't even their first purchase of the company. So why buy for a second time so soon after the IPO?

The team believes the company's 900 million monthly visitors are incredibly valuable. Though many have belabored the point that Facebook doesn't have a viable mobile strategy, Dave is excited about the company's mobile-only monetization strategy that's about to be released: Sponsored Stories. Only time will tell whether the strategy can live up to its promise of making money from smartphone users.

Apple (NAS: AAPL)
Dave and John didn't stop at Facebook, though. They've also been accumulating shares of Apple. There are three reasons they think Apple is a buy today. First, the company is changing the face of computing and driving traditional competitors out of business by accelerating the transition to mobile.

Secondly, Dave and John don't parse words when it comes to CEO Tim Cook: "He's doing an outstanding job ... of just getting things done."

Finally, the two are left scratching their heads when it comes to Apple's cheap price: "I cannot believe this company trades for just 11 times free cash flow when that cash flow is still growing so much every year," opined Dave.

Solazyme (NAS: SZYM)
This is a biofuel company that has developed a technique to make tailored oils by giving feedstock to patented microalgae. The company's oils can be used in three separate industries: cosmetic and beauty products, nutritional supplements, and fuel and chemicals. Obviously, if Solazyme's chemicals were ever able to replace standard gasoline, that would be a huge coup. But the company has enough revenue streams that it doesn't need such a huge success to be a good investment.

As John and Dave point out:

Solazyme has everything we look for in a potential multibagger. It has a transformational technology, an engaged management team, and plenty of financial potential. Alternative energy is a burgeoning field with lots of different players. There's no guarantee that Solazyme will rewrite the history of alternative energy, but we think it's worth risking a little capital on one of the more promising players.

Finally, we visit analyst Jim Mueller to find out why he's buying the parent company of grocery stores like Jewel-Osco. As Jim says, investing in SUPERVALU must be done with the understanding that this is a turnaround play.

The company got itself into trouble by making an ill-timed acquisition of the Albertson's chain a few years back that saddled it with lots of debt. Since then, however, the company's management has been using its copious amounts of free cash flow to pay down debt and make-in store improvements to attract more customers.

No time like the present
These are the best ideas our analysts have right now, but if you'd like more ideas to boost your retirement portfolio, I suggest you check out our latest special free report: "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich." Inside, you'll get the names and ticker symbols of these three American companies and why they're great investments for the long run. Get your copy of the report today, absolutely free!

The article 5 Stocks to Buy Before the End of the Fiscal Year originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Brian Stoffel owns shares of Solazyme and Apple. You can follow him on Twitter, where he goes by TMFStoffel.The Motley Fool owns shares of SuperValu, Facebook, Apple, McDonald's, Arcos Dorados, and Solazyme. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and McDonald's, creating a bull call spread position in Apple, and buying calls on SUPERVALU. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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