You might have noticed that the stocks of several companies with coronavirus programs have taken off this year. That's not surprising, with all of the interest in COVID-19 diagnostics tests, treatments, and vaccines in development. Some investors have even opted to buy a basket of these stocks, hoping that many of them deliver huge gains in a short period of time that more than offset the losers.
Such an approach requires a larger upfront investment than many people have. Luckily, you don't have to have a ton of money to spread across a bunch of stocks of companies with COVID-19 programs. If you have $1,000 to invest, here are two coronavirus stocks that you can buy and hold for the next decade (or more).
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Solid coronavirus programs
The two stocks I have in mind are Abbott Labs (NYSE: ABT) and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN). Both companies have solid coronavirus programs, albeit focused on different areas.
Abbott has emerged as the de facto leader in COVID-19 diagnostics tests. That's not surprising, considering the company already ranked No. 1 in point-of-care diagnostics testing even before the pandemic. Abbott currently markets six COVID-19 diagnostics tests under the FDA's (Food and Drug Administration) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) program.
Arguably, the most important of these tests is the company's BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test. This diagnostic test costs only $5 per test and can deliver results within 15 minutes. This low cost and rapid response is such a potential game-changer that the U.S. government quickly signed a deal to buy 150 million BinaxNOW tests.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is one of a select few drugmakers with coronavirus vaccine candidates in late-stage testing. The company partnered with the University of Oxford earlier this year to develop and advance AZD1222. In May, the U.S. government agreed to give AstraZeneca $1.2 billion to support the development of the experimental vaccine and supply 300 million doses if it wins EUA.
The U.S. late-stage clinical trial for AZD1222 has been temporarily paused due to one participant in a U.K. trial experiencing an unexplained illness. However, late-stage testing of the coronavirus vaccine candidate has already resumed in several other countries and could restart in the U.S. soon.
More winners in their product lineups
Both Abbott and AstraZeneca stand to make billions of dollars from their coronavirus programs. However, the two companies have more winners in their product lineups that investors should find appealing.
FreeStyle Libre is at the top of the list for Abbott. Sales have soared for the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device. Abbott won FDA clearance earlier this year for a second version of Libre that integrates with other devices, including insulin pumps. This version has already become a huge commercial success.
Abbott is a healthcare giant with several multibillion-dollar businesses, though. The company ranks No. 1 in nearly every area where it operates, with top sellers such as its Alinity family of diagnostics systems, Mitraclip heart-valve devices, and Pedialyte pediatric-nutrition products.
AstraZeneca's lineup is also loaded with successful products. Sales continue to skyrocket for the company's cancer drugs Tagrisso, Imfinzi, Lynparza, and Calquence. It's a similar story for diabetes drug Farxiga and blood thinner Brilinta.
In addition, AstraZeneca claims an exceptionally strong pipeline. It has 166 programs in clinical development. Nine of those are new drugs in late-stage testing.
Wall Street analysts are bullish about both stocks. The consensus estimate average annual earnings growth for Abbott over the next five years is nearly 15%. Analysts think that AstraZeneca could deliver average annual earnings growth of more than 19% over the same period.
Don't forget the dividends
Sure, Abbott's and AstraZeneca's great coronavirus programs and strong growth prospects are quite tempting. But don't forget their dividends.
Abbott Labs belongs to the elite group of stocks known as Dividend Aristocrats. To join this group, members of the S&P 500 index must increase their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. Abbott has nearly doubled that threshold, with 48 years of dividend hikes so far. The company's dividend currently yields 1.3%.
AstraZeneca doesn't have the track record of dividend hikes as Abbott does. However, the drugmaker's dividend yield of 2.7% is more attractive.
Buy and hold
Abbott Labs and AstraZeneca are both strong companies with a commitment to innovation that has been exemplified by their leadership spots in the fight against COVID-19. In my view, they're ideal stocks for investors to buy and hold throughout this decade and beyond.
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