Do you like finding the silver linings in dark clouds? The COVID-19 pandemic has, figuratively speaking, caused a very dark cloud to hover over the entire world. But there is at least one silver lining. Quite a few promising stocks of companies that are focused on battling the novel coronavirus have captured investors' attention.
Mind you, not every coronavirus-focused stock is a great pick. Some have skyrocketed well above what they're worth. But some remain attractive alternatives for long-term investors. If you have $3,000 to invest, here are three top coronavirus stocks that you can buy right now.
1. Abbott Labs
Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) introduced its first diagnostic test for COVID-19 on March 18 for its m2000 system after obtaining FDA emergency use authorization (EUA). Only 11 days later, the healthcare giant revealed the fastest COVID-19 diagnostic test yet, one that runs on its widely used ID NOW platform.
Fast-forward to mid-April when Abbott launched its third COVID-19 test. This one supported the detection of antibodies to determine if a person has recovered from infection by the novel coronavirus. It's fair to say that no company has been more at the forefront of COVID-19 diagnostic advances than Abbott Labs.
But Abbott is an enormous company with a lot more going on than just its COVID-19 efforts. The company has achieved tremendous success recently with innovative products including its Freestyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system and its Alinity suite of lab diagnostics systems. These and other products make Wall Street analysts think that Abbott will be able to generate average annual earnings growth of more than 10% over the next five years.
In addition to these solid growth prospects, Abbott offers a solid dividend that yields more than 1.5%. Expect that dividend to grow in the future. It certainly has in the past: Abbott Labs has increased its dividend for an impressive 48 years in a row.
2. Gilead Sciences
While Abbott Labs has made waves with its COVID-19 diagnostics capabilities, Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) has been at the center of attention with its antiviral drug remdesivir. Gilead originally developed the drug to treat Ebola. Remdesivir wasn't very effective with that virus, but it's shown promise in treating COVID-19.
There has been a lot of speculation in recent weeks about just how effective remdesivir could be as a COVID-19 therapy. We now know that the results from two late-stage studies, one conducted by Gilead and the other by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that show the drug appears to be safe and effective in treating COVID-19.
Although many people are fixated on remdesivir, a potentially bigger story to watch is with another drug -- filgotinib. Gilead hopes to soon win U.S. and European approvals for the drug in treating rheumatoid arthritis. It's also evaluating filgotinib in clinical studies targeting other immunology indications.
Looking a little further down the road, Gilead has a potential game-changer with its long-acting HIV capsid inhibitor GS-6207. The drug is only in phase 2 testing right now, but it could be the face of the future for Gilead's tremendously successful HIV franchise.
Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) is the outlier with these three stocks. It's only a fraction of the size of Abbott Labs and Gilead Sciences. It doesn't have any approved products on the market. But this small biotech stock could be the biggest winner of the three over the next few years.
Some investors are excited about Novavax's experimental COVID-19 vaccine. The company announced earlier this month that it plans to begin clinical testing of the vaccine in mid-May. Novavax is working with Emergent BioSolutions to manufacture the vaccine.
However, the real buzz for Novavax is for its nanoparticle-based flu vaccine NanoFlu. In March, the biotech reported overwhelmingly positive results from a late-stage study of NanoFlu in a head-to-head matchup with Sanofi's FluZone Quadrivalent, a leading vaccine already on the market.
Estimates vary for how much NanoFlu could make if it's approved, with one analyst projecting around $550 million and another looking for peak annual sales of close to $1.7 billion. With Novavax's market cap currently at around $1 billion, even the low target for its flu vaccine should mean that this stock has plenty of room to run.
All three of these companies have at least one common denominator in that they're all in the COVID-19 fight, albeit in different ways. However, the stocks also have something else in common: While they could win from their coronavirus programs, other products are the real growth drivers to watch. An initial investment of $3,000 spread across these stocks could generate massive returns over the long run for patient investors.