What's better than a stock that pays great dividends? A stock that pays great dividends and keeps hiking those dividends.
That's exactly what AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) has done since being spun off from Abbott Labs in 2013, raising its dividend every year. If you count the period when AbbVie was part of Abbott, the company entered 2019 with a 46-year streak of consecutive annual dividend hikes. And now this terrific high-yield dividend stock just got even better.
Add another hike to the pile
You can bump up AbbVie's dividend-hiking streak to 47 years. The company announced yet another dividend increase with its third-quarter update on Nov. 1. AbbVie will boost its dividend payout by 10.3% beginning with the dividend payable in February 2020.
If you're keeping score, that brings AbbVie's total accumulated dividend increase since being spun off from Abbott to a cool 195%. Who wouldn't love a dividend that nearly triples in seven years?
This latest dividend hike also makes AbbVie's sky-high dividend yield even more attractive. The company's forward-looking yield now stands at 5.21%. AbbVie's dividend yield has been above 4% for practically all of 2019.
Can AbbVie keep it up?
Some investors have been highly skeptical about AbbVie's prospects. The big pharma company already faces biosimilar competition in Europe for its top-selling drug, Humira. Biosimilars will hit the U.S. market in a little over three years from now.
AbbVie's pending $63 billion acquisition of Allergan (NYSE:AGN) has also been derided as a colossal mistake. The main criticism of the deal is that Allergan has its own problems with stagnating growth and its reliance on blockbuster drug Botox.
With sales for Humira in jeopardy and serious questions about the Allergan buyout, can AbbVie keep its dividend program going as strong as it has in the past? I think it can.
For one thing, AbbVie has already secured key FDA approvals for two successors to Humira, Rinvoq and Skyrizi. Market researcher EvaluatePharma ranked both drugs in its top five new drug launches of 2019, with Rinvoq coming in at No. 3 and Skyrizi at No. 2. The two drugs are expected to combine for peak annual sales of over $10 billion, more than half of what Humira generated last year.
AbbVie also has several other drugs that should continue to deliver strong sales growth. Blood cancer drug Imbruvica appears to be on track to become the world's No. 5 biggest-selling drug by 2024. Another blood cancer drug, Venclexta, could reach $2 billion in annual sales -- nearly three times what the drug will bring in this year. Orilissa, which is already approved for treating endometriosis and is expected to pick up another indication in treating uterine fibroids, could also be a blockbuster in the future.
Don't discount Allergan's prospects, either. Sales for Botox keep on growing. Antipsychotic drug Vraylar is looking like a big winner with sales skyrocketing 70% year over year in Q3 to nearly $235 million. Allergan hopes to win FDA approval for migraine drug ubrogepant this year with a U.S. launch in 2020. AbbVie expects that the addition of Allergan's current lineup and pipeline candidates will greatly reduce its reliance on Humira.
A Dividend King in the making
AbbVie CEO Rick Gonzalez stated in the company's Q3 conference call that AbbVie remains "committed to a strong and growing dividend." The latest double-digit percent increase appears to confirm that commitment.
Including its time as part of Abbott, AbbVie already belongs to the group of stocks known as Dividend Aristocrats -- companies that have increased their dividend for at least 25 consecutive years. There's an even more elite group, though, called Dividend Kings, that has delivered dividend hikes for 50 years in a row. AbbVie only has to boost its dividend in each of the next three years to join the exclusive club.
I think that AbbVie is a Dividend King in the making and one of the best dividend stocks on the market right now.