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Choose these agricultural stocks to finish the year strong

Deere and Co, one of the agricultural stocks to purchase at the end of the year.

The year is nearly over, and there are few opportunities out there. With a VIX falling below 15% on the heels of the holiday season, it looks like Wall Street is getting ready to hibernate until there is some news to write home about next year. 

A list of stocks with double-digit upside carry the right components to get you there.

Believe it or not, you can find these stocks within the industrial stock universe, overlayed with a mix of fertilizer stocks. Names like Deere & Co. (NYSE: DE)Mosaic Company (NYSE: MOS) and CF Industries (NYSE: CF) all revolve around one thing everyone needs: food.

Sustainable growth

You can rest assured that, as the world population keeps growing, the need for crops will go nowhere but up. Knowing this, you can position yourself to ride a multi-decade wave of upside in the crowned jewels of the sector.

Starting with the players that make farming possible, CF and Mosaic both produce the chemicals necessary for fertilizers to do their job; without them, companies like Deere would be out of business since, without crops, farming machinery would be no more.

If this is true, then you have a clear advantage in today's market, as these stocks are all in an official bear market, defined by Wall Street as a 20% or more decline from 52-week high prices.

Taking the lead in bearish momentum, CF and Mosaic trade at 68% and 62% of their 52-week highs. Deere, being on the end of the industry's stick, is doing a bit better at 80%, though the past quarter has seen nothing but sell-offs for this stock.

Deere analysts have landed on a consensus price target of $447.9 a share, which would call for this fallen stock to rise by as much as 23.8% from today's prices. 

CF and Mosaic analysts are not too far apart; bullish sentiment is still solidly in place after these two stocks declined during the past quarter. Price targets indicate a 23.3% upside for CF and a 26.9% pending rally for Mosaic. But can you trust these analysts' diligent work?

Evidence for more

Whenever you deal with commodity-based companies, like food, there will be inevitable cycles in your investment journey. The key to making money in a situation like this is to position yourself right at the bottom of the cycle, which is happening now.

According to Mosaic's latest earnings presentation, the world (ex. China) has the lowest grain and oilseed stock utilization. There is too much supply in plain English, sending prices of phosphate and potash (the chemicals made by CF and Mosaic) down the toilet.

No wonder revenues at these companies have been going down for the past 12 months. However, volumes should pick up in 2024 as the supply gets used up, causing a rising need for crop production to restock.

CF's presentation backs up the same thesis, pointing to the lowest end of the utilization cycle since 2011. All this means is that, out of a 13-year cycle, you can get in at the bottom.

But how can you be sure? Activity at the manufacturing front is still strong, as if farmers knew what will happen next year and are stocking up on the necessary machinery. Deere's revenues jumped 16% over the year, with earnings per share advancing by a massive 49%.

If you need more proof, count on management at CF and Mosaic to know what will happen. Eight million shares were repurchased at CF for $150 million, or 1% of the company's market capitalization.

Mosaic also hopped on this train, buying back as many as 16.2 million shares for a total value of $150 million, or 1.3% of this company's size. These sizeable buybacks can be nothing but a vote of confidence from insiders and the expectation that the stock will head up soon.

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