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Stock Opportunities to Invest in Now

For most of 2021, it has been easy to hit the proverbial investment ball out of the park. So far this year, the S&P 500 stock index has logged a record high 26 times through early May. This market likely has more gains ahead, driven by soaring economic growth as the United States reopens and corporate profits that are crushing analysts’ expectations, notes Anne Kates Smith, Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

Still, as we go deeper into 2021, investors should expect fewer grand slams and more singles and doubles. That means staying nimble and on the alert for curveballs, whether in the form of higher inflation, rising interest rates or COVID setbacks.

Instead of relying on the momentum of an unstoppable U.S. market, investors should be open to new strategies and should be comfortable on a global playing field. Here are five stock opportunities to consider for the second half of 2021:

Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM). Founded in 1902, the company purchases, transports, stores, processes and markets agricultural commodities and products worldwide, with about 55% of its revenue generated outside the United States. Global demand for soybean products, including from China, is a plus. Argus Research rates the stock a “buy” and gives the shares a price target of $80 over the next 12 months (as of mid-June the stock is trading at $64 a share).

Coursera (COUR). Investment firm Stifel initiated coverage of the online education platform, which went public in March, with a “buy” rating. Coursera connects some 77 million learners with educational content from leading universities and industry providers. Digitization of the global economy and automation are driving demand for higher-education and skill-based content, according to Stifel analysts. “As the costs of traditional in-person instruction continue to rise, we expect a greater share of spending to shift to online platforms that are affordable, flexible and globally accessible,” they write.

First American Financial (FAF). This company specializes in title insurance and provides closing, escrow and other services that facilitate real estate transactions. Given strong housing sales, “it’s been a really robust market for them,” says lead Ariel Investments manager and firm founder John Rogers Jr.

Jacobs Engineering Group (J). Research firm CFRA rates the stock a “strong buy.” A global focus on green infrastructure initiatives provides opportunities for growth related to markets in which Jacobs is already a leader, such as energy storage and clean energy generation, transmission and distribution.

Levi Strauss & Co. (LEVI). The market doesn’t fully appreciate the boost that earnings may get from the combined power of reopening, a resurgence in denim popularity, cost savings and investments in the brand, according to investment firm UBS. As of mid-spring analysts there forecast earnings per share of $1.40 in fiscal 2022 – 25% above pre-pandemic levels.

Editor’s Note: Anne Kates Smith is executive editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, www.Kiplinger.com.

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