Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) is a blue-chip stock that has been at the forefront of coronavirus testing since the early days of the pandemic. The company has created five COVID-19 tests, including two antibody tests and three molecular tests. Abbott Labs is shipping millions of these tests to communities, medical providers, and laboratories around the world.
In the midst of a global recession, it's normal to think long and hard before investing your hard-earned money. If you're evaluating Abbott Labs to determine whether it may be a good coronavirus buy for your portfolio, it's a good idea to look back at how this stock performed during and after the previous economic downturn. The Great Recession started in December of 2007 and lasted for 18 months. We've been in the current recession since February of this year.
If you had invested $1,000 in Abbott Labs in the last recession, this is how much your investment would be worth today.
Your $1,000 would have turned into ...
Despite the drastic market fluctuations that occurred in the last recession, shares of Abbott stock remained relatively stable during that year and a half. At the beginning of the Great Recession in December 2007, shares cost about $27 each. Abbott Labs was selling at roughly $21 per share in June 2009. If you had invested in Abbott in 2008, when the stock's average price was $25, and started with $1,000, you would have had enough to buy approximately 40 shares.
Today, that initial $1,000 would have turned into about $3,958. That's nearly four times your starting investment. A $10,000 investment in Abbott Labs then would be worth nearly $40,000 today.
How Abbott Labs has fared during the pandemic
Abbott's balance sheet was looking good pre-pandemic. In 2019, the company reported revenue of just less than $32 billion. In earnings results for the first quarter of 2020, released April 16, global reported sales were up 2.5% at nearly $8 billion, despite the pandemic. The company maintained a healthy cash flow of $3.7 billion in the first three months of 2020. Q1 sales in the company's medical device segment were up 1.4% on a reported basis, while the established pharmaceuticals segment saw a 5.2% boost in revenue. Revenue in Abbott's worldwide diagnostics segment declined 0.8% on a reported basis in the first quarter, attributable to a decline in standard testing due to the coronavirus.
Abbott released its Q2 earnings results on July 16. Although the company's second-quarter results outdid analysts' estimates at $7.3 billion, global sales plunged over 8%. In stark contrast to the first quarter, sales in Abbott's worldwide diagnostics division were up nearly 5%, with a $615 million boost from sales of coronavirus tests. Abbott's established pharmaceuticals and medical device segments, on the other hand, were down by 8.6% and 21.2%, respectively. On the flip side, sales in Abbott's diabetes care division were up nearly 37% on a reported basis. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also just approved the company's continuous glucose monitoring device, the FreeStyle Libre 2, in June for people with diabetes who are four years of age and up.
Is now a good time to invest in Abbott Labs?
Abbott pays a modest but reliable dividend, which yields about 1.5% -- a bit less than the S&P 500 average of 2%. The company has boosted its yield every year for 48 years in a row, which makes this stock a Dividend Aristocrat -- an attractive option for dividend investors.
Most companies have been affected to some extent by the ongoing pandemic and recession. While Abbott Labs has been no exception, its coronavirus tests have helped to counteract the negative effects the pandemic has had on its medical devices segment, which was booming before the coronavirus. The company also has a stable of other profitable products to fall back on, which is one of the main reasons it still managed to exceed analysts' expectations in the second quarter. Given the more than 130 years in business under its belt, I believe Abbott Labs will come out on top.
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