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Got $1,000? 2 Bulletproof Stocks to Buy in 2024 and Hold for the Long Haul

While no one can say with absolute certainty what the market will or won't do in 2024, finding great stocks that have the power to stand the test of time in your portfolio doesn't have to be complicated. Great businesses with strong financial footing, broad and growing addressable markets, and substantial moats tend to hold up well in a wide range of economic environments.

Those are the kinds of businesses you want to buy and add to again, and repeat, through the years. To that end, if you have $1,000 to invest in stocks right now, here are two superb businesses to consider for your buy basket.

1. UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) one of the largest healthcare companies in the world with a diversified business that serves the full spectrum of needs facing both providers and consumers in this space. The company operates two primary business segments.

Its UnitedHealthcare segment offers a range of insurance plans to employers and individuals all over the world. Its other segment, Optum, serves everyone from consumers to care providers to government entities with solutions including in-person and in-home healthcare services, software services, consulting, analytics, pharmacy care services, and more.

The company is not only growing revenue at a solid clip thanks to the continued performance of both its core business segments but is also consistently profitable. In 2023, UnitedHealth Group reported total revenue of $372 billion, a 15% bump from 2022, and earnings from operations of $32 billion, up 14% from the prior year.

The company's full-year operating cash flow totaled $29 billion, with a total return on equity of 27% for 2023. UnitedHealth is also a faithful dividend payer. Its current yield is around 1.6%, which is in line with that of the average stock trading on the S&P 500. The company has been paying a dividend in some form for 35 years, and its payout has increased 400% over the past decade.

Currently, UnitedHealth Group controls a roughly 15% share of the entire health insurance market in the U.S. For context, that's a space that is on track to reach a valuation of $2.5 trillion by the year 2030. And with its footprint spanning virtually every aspect of healthcare services, it's safe to say that there's still plenty of room left for this giant to run.

2. Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) has had a banner 2024 so far, and it's barely past the first quarter. The company already has a steady track record of revenue growth and profitability thanks to its highly successful cystic fibrosis drug franchise. The company has long held the distinction of being the only one with drugs commercialized to treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis, a fact that has helped it eat up significant market share in this space while revolutionizing the standard of care for this genetic disease.

Its top-selling drug is called Trikafta, and that product accounted for about 90% of Vertex's total revenue in 2023. While patent exclusivity on that product doesn't end for well over a decade, Vertex is focusing on new product launches that could usher in the next era of growth for the business. Along with its co-development and co-marketing partner CRISPR Therapeutics, it just garnered approval for Casgevy, a gene-editing therapy with serious blockbuster potential.

Casgevy is a potential one-time functional cure for both transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease and has already been approved in key markets like the U.S., U.K., and the EU. Vertex has been working closely with private and public payers around the globe to ensure access to patients, as the cost of the gene-editing therapy will run at around $2.2 million per treatment. The treatment process is lengthy, as each patient has their own cells extracted, edited, and then infused back in to create the proper amount of fetal hemoglobin.

The company has a few other candidates in its late-stage pipeline that also have blockbuster potential. One is VX-548, a non-opioid drug to treat various types of acute pain, and the other is a new triple combination therapy for cystic fibrosis. Vertex is working toward an aggressive goal of having five new product launches by 2028. The approvals of Casgevy for transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease were the first two, and these other two drugs would mark the next in that series of product launches.

There's a lot to like about where this company is going. Vertex's focus on underserved areas of the rare disease drug market where patients have little to no promising treatment options gives this business considerable growth potential as it builds upon an established footprint in this space. It looks like a wise time to take a second look at this stock.

Should you invest $1,000 in UnitedHealth Group right now?

Before you buy stock in UnitedHealth Group, consider this:

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Rachel Warren has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends CRISPR Therapeutics and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool recommends UnitedHealth Group. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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