3 Big Reasons to Own Johnson & Johnson Stock

Source: Johnson & Johnson.

When investors are looking to fill out their retirement portfolios, they would be wise to give a long, hard look at Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ  )  stock. Though shares of the company are up almost 40% in the past year, there are three big reasons the company is worth owning today.

1. Strong brands galore
Many people might not realize it, but along with many of the products you know and love from above, Johnson & Johnson also makes medical equipment and develops prescription drugs. From time to time, these two latter segments can yield major profits.

For instance, in 2012, Remicade, a product that treats Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis, achieved sales of $6.1 billion for Johnson & Johnson. That means almost 10% of the company's revenues came from just one drug!

But the sales of both prescription drugs and medical devices can be volatile. The arduous drug approval process, certain medicines coming off patent protection, and continued innovation in the medical equipment industry all combine to make these segments hit-or-miss.

Therefore, although the consumer products that we are more familiar with only accounted for 21% of Johnson & Johnson's revenue in 2012, their presence is incredibly important. They provide stability for the more lucrative -- but uncertain -- segments of the company.

Taken as a whole, this allows investors to gain exposure to both the lucrative pharmaceutical and surgical industries just by owning Johnson & Johnson stock.

2. A very healthy balance sheet and dividend
When dealing with big conglomerates like Johnson & Johnson, it can sometimes be easy to take on debt loads or assets that aren't shareholder friendly. For instance, during the Great Recession, other conglomerates like General Electric had finance divisions that eliminated all of the cash flows generated its other divisions, causing the stock to nose-dive.

But Johnson & Johnson has avoided that distinction. The company currently has $15.9 billion in debt -- no small number -- but holds more than $21 billion in cash. Furthermore, in 2012, Johnson & Johnson generated $12.5 billion in free cash flow -- more than enough to cover the $6.6 billion in dividends the company paid out.

Currently, Johnson & Johnson's stock yields a healthy 3% dividend, much larger than the market as a whole.

3. A field ripe for continued growth
Much has been made about the skyrocketing health care costs in America. But as many fellow Fools have already pointed out, our country's obesity, heart disease, mental health,  and diabetes problems aren't going anywhere soon.

Of course, there are more lucrative options out there. You could invest in Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA  ) or VIVUS (NASDAQ: VVUS  ) , which have developed obesity medications. Both Belviq and Qsymia, each company's respective medicine, have been approved by the FDA and hold great potential for investors. However, sales of Qsymia haven't taken off in part because of insurers being slow to pick up coverage, and Belviq isn't on the market yet because DEA scheduling for the drug took several months to complete.

A much safer route would be to invest in Johnson & Johnson stock. Although the company might not have a breakthrough medicine for obesity right now, it has enough cash to finance major research and development in the future. And the company also has a global reach, which becomes evermore important as the ills of Western living start to spread across the globe.

A Foolish approach
I've been investing in Johnson & Johnson stock since August 2011. Since then, the stock has returned 45% -- beating the market by 11 percentage points. But I still think any investor looking for exposure to health care would be wise to consider buying shares of Johnson & Johnson.

If you want to know if J&J is right for your portfolio, check out The Fool's new premium report outlining the Johnson & Johnson story in terms that any investor can understand. Claim your copy by clicking here now

Editor's note: A previous version of this article did not clearly state that Arena's Belviq has not yet reached the market. The Fool regrets the error.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2013, at 2:23 PM, prginww wrote:

    Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

    You wrote; "But because of insurers being slow to pick up coverage, or labeling issues with the DEA, sales have yet to take off."

    It would be kinda hard for Arena's sales of Belviq to take off seeing as it hasn't hit the markets yet.

  • Report this Comment On May 29, 2013, at 2:53 PM, prginww wrote:

    @bmc007 -- Thanks for your feedback. We've updated the article to make the wording clearer. Fool on! --Sharon Yep, healthcare editor

Add your comment.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2453928, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/30/2016 1:22:12 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,449.54 -53.45 -0.29%
S&P 500 2,176.14 -4.24 -0.19%
NASD 5,219.81 -12.52 -0.24%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

8/30/2016 1:06 PM
JNJ $119.46 Down -0.46 -0.38%
Johnson and Johnso… CAPS Rating: *****
ARNA $1.60 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Arena Pharmaceutic… CAPS Rating: **
GE $31.39 Up +0.03 +0.10%
General Electric CAPS Rating: ****
VVUS $1.07 Down -0.02 -1.83%
VIVUS CAPS Rating: **