Just because we are in a recession doesn't mean it's a bad time to invest in stocks. After all, buying shares of great companies -- and holding these shares for long periods -- remains one of the best ways to accumulate wealth. Of course, before putting your money in the stock market, it's essential to ensure that you have enough saved for a rainy day. In case you do, and if you still have $2,000 lying around, here are two stocks that could be great long-term picks: Abbott Laboratories (ABT 0.67%) and Pfizer (PFE 1.40%).
Both of these healthcare giants have been involved in the fight against COVID-19. And even beyond their coronavirus-related efforts, there are great reasons to invest in them.
1. Abbott Laboratories
Abbott Laboratories has developed five COVID-19 diagnostic tests, one of which is the ID Now COVID-19 antibody test. According to the company, this device can give positive results in as little as five minutes. This test did run into a little bit of trouble, however, when in May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers that it could return false negatives.
Fortunately, the company issued interim data from a clinical study that showed that ID Now is highly reliable. Abbott's COVID-19 tests are having a positive effect on its financial results, too. During the second quarter, the company's diagnostics segments reported sales of about $2 billion -- a 7.1% year-over-year organic increase -- which the company largely attributed to its newly developed coronavirus tests.
Overall, Abbott recorded total sales of $7.3 billion during the second quarter, a 5.4% year-over-year decrease on an organic basis. Investors should remember that the COVID-19 crisis is hurting Abbott's business -- and those of many other medical device companies, for that matter. But the healthcare giant is managing to weather the storm. The sales number was above the $6.75 billion analysts were expecting.
The healthcare company could benefit from several growth drivers. In particular, Abbott's diabetes care segment is performing well, largely thanks to its continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system called the FreeStyle Libre. During the first and second quarters, sales of this device increased by 62.5% and 40% year over year, respectively. What's more, the FDA recently cleared the newer and better (according to Abbott) FreeStyle Libre 2.
In late June, Abbott entered into a partnership with Tandem Diabetes Care. The two companies will combine forces to integrate Tandem Diabetes Care's innovative t:slim X2 insulin pump with Abbott's FreeStyle Libre technology "for future automated insulin delivery systems." The diabetes care market constitutes just one potential growth area for Abbott, and that -- combined with its ability to keep its financial results afloat amid the crisis -- will allow the company to outperform the market in the long run.
Pfizer is collaborating with BioNtech to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The companies have several candidates, four of which are undergoing a phase 1/2 clinical trial. The trial is testing the safety, immunogenicity, and optimal dose level of these vaccines. In early July, Pfizer released positive interim data from this study. What's more, the FDA granted a fast-track designation to two of these candidates, BNT162b1 and BNT162b2. Pfizer and BioNtech plan on starting a phase 2b/3 clinical trial for the most promising candidates, which will enroll up to 30,000 participants, as early as late July.
Pfizer is one of the companies that was selected as part of Operation Warp Speed, which means it will receive federal funds, logistical support, and assistance with clinical trials to help it develop its coronavirus vaccine candidates. Beyond its involvement in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer is a pharma stock worth buying. The company is currently in the process of spinning off its Upjohn generics unit to Mylan, which will allow it to focus on its more profitable biopharma business. During the first quarter, Pfizer's biopharma segment reported a revenue of about $10 billion, an 11% year-over-year increase.
By contrast, revenue from its Upjohn unit came in at about $2 billion, representing a 37% year-over-year decline. Overall, the company's revenue was $12 billion, 7% lower than the prior-year quarter. Getting rid of its poorly performing generic unit should allow Pfizer to grow its revenue and earnings at a good clip. Pfizer currently offers a dividend yield of 4.1%, a payout ratio of 51.3%, and a cash payout ratio of 70.1%; the company has raised its dividends by 35.7% over the past five years. The combination of these factors should allow Pfizer to recover from its poor year-to-date performance and provide solid returns for long term investors.