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4 Dirt-Cheap Dividend Stocks to Buy as the Coronavirus Pandemic Continues

By Mark Prvulovic - Updated Apr 15, 2020 at 4:26PM

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You'd be hard-pressed to find better dividend stocks in the market right now.

If you're looking for safe, steady investments in these turbulent times, there's a surprising number of good choices. With many companies now trading at steep discounts due to the downturn fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, now's an excellent time to grow your portfolio with high-quality, dividend-paying stocks.

One of the best places for dividend investors to check out is the healthcare sector. While other businesses are struggling amid this pandemic, people will still need to take their medications regardless of what's going on in the world. As such, healthcare companies are considered to be among the safest investments right now in this market. Here are four solid companies in this industry that are boasting impressive dividends while still trading at shockingly low valuations.

Blocks that say 2020 with coins stacked on top

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1. GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -2.75%) tumbled down to a more than 10-year-low in March. While this decline seems like an overreaction, the fact that the stock is trading cheaply is good news for value and dividend investors alike. GlaxoSmithKline's dividend yield sits at a lucrative 5.8%, with the stock trading at bargain-bin valuations. The company's price-to-sales (P/S) ratio is just 2.3, the lowest on this list, while its trailing price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) comes in at 16.9.

GlaxoSmithKline has a fairly diversified business compared to other pharmaceutical giants on the market. The company's largest revenue driver is its pharmaceuticals business, which brought in 17.6 billion British pounds in revenue for 2019. However, revenue growth in this area remains quite slow, notching only a 2% increase from 2018.

Vaccines and consumer healthcare are both smaller segments, bringing in around 7.2 billion and 9 billion pounds in revenue for 2019, respectively. However, they are growing much faster than GlaxoSmithKline's pharmaceuticals business. The two segments reported revenue growth of 21% and 17%, respectively.

GlaxoSmithKline also announced a number of recent partnerships related to combating COVID-19, including a deal with a Chinese biotech, Xiamen Innovax Biotech, to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. While it's easy to get caught up in this excitement, there's already a fair amount of competition in this space, with a number of companies starting clinical trials. Additionally, GlaxoSmithKline emphasized that it doesn't expect to see any profit from this potential COVID-19 vaccine should it turn out to be a success.

Overall, GlaxoSmithKline's impressive dividend alongside its diversified business is enough to make it a compelling addition to most investors' portfolios.

2. AbbVie

When it comes to pharmaceutical companies boasting sky-high dividends, look no further than AbbVie (ABBV -0.54%). The stock currently offers a 5.9% dividend yield for investors, with a P/S ratio of 3.6 and trailing P/E multiple of 15..

AbbVie holds the distinction of owning one of the top-selling drugs in the world, an inflammatory treatment called Humira. While there is some concern surrounding the drug's patent expiration and the subsequent competition from new generics that would emerge, AbbVie's patent protection for Humira will still last until 2023. Until then, AbbVie's free to enjoy continued revenue growth from this mega-blockbuster drug. In the U.S. market, Humira experienced 8.6% growth in Q4 2019 year over year.

The company has other promising treatments with impressive growth as well. AbbVie's second-best-selling drug is Imbruvica, a type of specific cancer medication used in conditions such as leukemia and lymphoma (both are blood cancers). The drug saw fourth-quarter global revenue of $1.3 billion, a 28.9% increase from Q4 2018.

Although AbbVie's overall revenue growth is slower than that of some of the other companies on this list (full-year net revenue was up just 1.6% for 2019), AbbVie makes up for it by offering one of the best dividend yields you can find in the healthcare market right now.

3. Bristol Myers Squibb

With a 3.05% yield, Bristol Myers Squibb's (BMY -1.00%) dividend is on the smaller side compared to the other names on this list. However, what makes this healthcare stock a buy right now is its remarkably cheap valuation given its growth potential. The company currently has a P/S ratio of just 3.9 and its trailing P/E ratio is 29.3. While shares aren't trading as cheaply as they were in late March, this value stock still is a steal.

Bristol's lineup of blockbuster drugs was already impressive on its own, but following its $74 billion acquisition of Celgene last year, the company's growth prospects look better than ever. In the most recent quarter, Bristol's current top-selling drugs -- Opdivo, Eliquis, and Revlimid -- brought in $1.8 billion, $2 billion, and $1.3 billion in revenue, respectively.

Revlimid, Bristol's newest addition acquired from the Celgene deal, treats a type of bone marrow cancer called multiple myeloma. Eliquis is Bristol's leading blood clot (deep vein thrombosis) treatment, while Eliquis is a well-known non-small-cell lung cancer treatment for patients who have already tried chemotherapy. By 2024, these three drugs are all expected to be among the top 10 best-selling drugs in the world.

All things considered, it's not surprising that the company has seen stellar growth figures. Bristol Myers reported a 33% increase in fourth-quarter revenue between 2019 and 2018, to $7.9 billion. As to be expected after such a massive acquisition, Bristol's has quite a bit of debt on its balance sheet. The company reported $46.7 billion in debt in Q4 2019, while its cash reserves came in at around $16.2 billion. 

It's hard to find a company boasting an impressive dividend, excellent growth prospects, and a cheap valuation. Bristol Myers Squibb is one of the rare stocks out there that tick off all three of these boxes.

4. Pfizer

Last but not least: Pfizer (PFE -0.14%). The company offers a respectable 4.3% dividend yield, with a P/S ratio of 3.9 and a trailing P/E ratio of 12.2. Unlike some of the other companies on this list, Pfizer has been struggling with revenue growth.

Full-year 2019 revenue came in at $51.8 billion, a slight 1% decline from 2018. However, the picture is a bit more nuanced than it first appears. While Pfizer's biopharma division has been doing well, reporting an 8% growth rate for 2019, the Upjohn unit has been weighing down the company. Although this unit includes some well-known drugs, such as Viagra and cholesterol-lowering Lipitor, sales have fallen by 16% over the past year.

The good news is that Pfizer is planning to spin off its Upjohn unit, which will combine with Mylan. With this weight off its shoulders, many investors expect Pfizer to do much better financially in the years to come as it will be able to focus on what it does best: developing new drug candidates.

On that subject, Pfizer has one of the most impressive portfolios of drug candidates out there. This includes 23 phase 3 trials underway, alongside nine clinical programs currently awaiting regulatory approval. Among Pfizer's more promising candidates on the verge of approval are an acute myeloid leukemia drug, Daurismo, as well as a second- or third-line colorectal cancer drug combo, Braftovi and Erbitux.

Betting on Pfizer during the initial stages of this transformation is likely to pay off for income investors down the road.

Mark Prvulovic has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bristol Myers Squibb. The Motley Fool recommends Mylan. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$49.71 (-0.14%) $0.07
Bristol Myers Squibb Company Stock Quote
Bristol Myers Squibb Company
$74.21 (-1.00%) $0.75
GSK Stock Quote
$38.93 (-2.75%) $-1.10
AbbVie Inc. Stock Quote
AbbVie Inc.
$139.50 (-0.54%) $0.75

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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