As companies race to develop treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus, investors have sprinted to invest in their shares. Shares of clinical stage biotech companies like Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO 6.91%) and Moderna (MRNA -0.37%) have surged more than 150% since the start of the year. Still, I favor players that also have commercialized products. They can deliver revenue growth in the long term -- whether their coronavirus work is profitable or not.
Here are my top three for you to consider adding to your portfolio.
1. Abbott Laboratories
Abbott Laboratories (ABT 0.90%) may be the best coronavirus stock out there. Why? Because its coronavirus-related products are already on the market. The company has launched three diagnostic tests for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and is working on a fourth. Two of the tests are meant to diagnose COVID-19 cases, while the third detects whether a now healthy person may have had the illness. The fourth test, involving the detection of a substance in a liquid sample, would make mass testing across the population possible.
Since the tests were launched recently, we haven't yet seen how they will add to earnings. That will come in the next earnings report. Even if the gain isn't huge, there's no reason to worry. Abbott, due to its diverse businesses in diagnostics, medical devices, and nutrition, doesn't have to rely on just one program for success. For example, core laboratory diagnostics fell 6.8% in the first quarter as the outbreak postponed non-essential testing, yet global sales, including all of the company's businesses, totaled $7.7 billion for a 2.5% increase.
Abbott shares have climbed 7.1% this year, but they likely have further to go. Wall Street expects 10% upside from here this year, but long-term investors may see gains well beyond.
Sanofi (SNY 2.19%) is involved in not one but five projects to address COVID-19. The French drugmaker is testing its hydroxychloroquine in two studies and evaluating its rheumatoid arthritis drug, Kevzara, for possible treatments. In three separate efforts, Sanofi is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Translate Bio (TBIO), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 0.84%) to develop vaccines.
Though Sanofi doesn't have an approved coronavirus product on the market, sales of pain medication Doliprane (acetaminophen) soared 20% in the first quarter as France's health minister recommended it in case of fever. Fever is one of the most common COVID-19 symptoms.
Doliprane is part of Sanofi's consumer healthcare business; with sales growth of 4.2%, it was second behind the 31.3% gain of the specialty care business. Looking beyond the coronavirus outbreak, investors can be optimistic about Sanofi's eczema drug, Dupixent. The company is counting on that drug compensating for declines in older blockbusters. Dupixent saw a sales surge of nearly 130% in the quarter to $839 million.
It's hard to compare Sanofi today to what it was in the past, as new CEO Paul Hudson is focusing the company on high-growth areas like immuno-oncology and has ended research in the once core areas of diabetes and cardiovascular. Hudson also is betting Dupixent will be Sanofi's next big drug. I like what I see so far and am optimistic about future revenue growth. With shares little changed year to date, now is the time to invest in the Sanofi story.
Amgen (AMGN 0.02%) announced earlier this month a collaboration with Adaptive Biotechnologies (ADPT 1.65%) for the development of antibodies to treat or prevent COVID-19. The biotech giant wasn't among the first to enter this race, and it doesn't have an infectious disease program. But the company's expertise at developing antibody-based drugs makes it a strong player. Amgen's Icelandic subsidiary, deCODE genetics, will participate in the collaboration, offering genetic insights through its testing of those who were once infected with the illness.
Coronavirus work aside, Amgen offers other reasons for an investment right now. Revenue growth has slowed for some of the company's older drugs, but the pipeline is full, and new growth is on the horizon. Amgen has about 40 programs in clinical trials, and half of them are in phase 3 studies.
Investors should look to psoriasis drug Otezla, acquired late last year from Celgene, as one of the new growth drivers. Celgene, now part of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMY 1.49%), reported a 27% increase in Otezla sales to $547 million in the quarter prior to handing the drug off. Amgen's next earnings report will show Otezla's first full quarter of sales. And in the coming days, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide on the expansion of prescribing information to include data from a scalp-psoriasis study.
Amgen shares have only declined 3.5% this year. Trading at 18 times earnings, the stock is down from a valuation of more than 40 a little more than a year ago. This makes a good entry point for a major biotech company that is set for future growth.