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2 Forever Stocks to Buy as Demand for Hand Sanitizer Surges

By David Jagielski – Jul 25, 2020 at 6:10AM

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The personal hygiene and cleaning products markets are poised for strong growth long after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Even once the spread and threat of COVID-19 is long gone, there's likely going to be a greater focus on cleanliness in society as people have become more aware of how easy it is to spread diseases through day-to-day activities. Cleaning products, including hand sanitizers, are going to be in high demand.

Research company Future Market Insights projects that the global hand sanitizer market will be worth $2.8 billion by 2030, growing at a rate of more than 7% every year. Projections from Research and Markets are even more optimistic with analysts expecting the market to be worth $3.65 billion by 2026, averaging annual growth of 12.3%.

Regardless of which growth rate is realized, there's good reason to be bullish on the sale of hand sanitizers for the foreseeable future. Here are two stocks that can benefit from the trend of cleaning your hands on the go.

1. Neptune Wellness

Neptune Wellness (NEPT 4.28%) is an intriguing option for growth investors because there are multiple ways for the stock to produce solid returns. Hand sanitizers are just its newest avenue. In June, Neptune announced plans to launch a line of scented plant-based hand sanitizer products, which will also contain essential oils and aloe vera. The rollout is a partnership with International Flavors & Fragrances. Sales will start rolling in from the products as early as the second quarter of fiscal 2021, which ends on Sept. 30.

Someone dispensing hand sanitizer from a bottle into their palm.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's a great way for the company to diversify and complement its existing business, which today is growing mainly as a result of its cannabis operations. Through its extraction and purification services, Neptune helps marijuana companies make edible cannabidiol (CBD) products. Given that the cannabis industry's still in its early growth stages, hand sanitizer sales likely won't outstrip that segment's sales growth. However, any added revenue source will make Neptune a better all-around buy because it will be less dependent on a singular business segment.

In fiscal 2020, Neptune recorded cannabis-related sales of 8.1 million Canadian dollars, which was 27% of its total revenue for the year. In the previous fiscal year, cannabis sales were negligible. But its nutraceutical sales were still Neptune's primary source of revenue in its most recent fiscal year, accounting for 72% of revenue, though that was a decline of 13% from the previous year. Overall, the company's sales rose by 21% in fiscal 2020.

With cannabis and hand sanitizers in the mix, the Canadian health and wellness company is in good shape to continue generating positive sales growth numbers for many years.

2. Colgate-Palmolive

Colgate-Palmolive (CL -0.21%) is an example of a stock that could find new life amid a surge in sales of hand sanitizers and cleaning products, especially in North America. The company released its first-quarter results on May 1 and net sales were up 5.5% year over year. Its oral, personal, and home care sales were up only a modest 2.9%, but in the North American market, the segment's revenue grew by 8.9%. The company sells a variety of soaps and sanitizing products and noted that "growth in the skin health, liquid hand soap, and bar soap categories" drove the strong performance in North America.

Currently, the company's largest segment is oral care, which made up 44% of Colgate's sales in Q1. Personal care, which includes soaps and hand sanitizers, made up 20% of revenue in Q1, compared to 19% a year ago. Home care and pet nutrition each make up 18% of sales.

Like Neptune, Colgate also has some exposure to CBD as one of its subsidiaries, Hello Products, launched a line of oral care products containing the compound in February after acquiring the company in January. This could be another growth opportunity for the New York-based business. According to an estimate from December 2019, Grand View Research projects that the global CBD market, which includes edibles and consumer products, is expected to grow at an annual rate of 22% until 2025 when it will reach a value of approximately $23.6 billion.

Colgate could certainly use some growth -- whether from CBD or soaps and hand sanitizers -- as its sales were flat in each of the past two years.

Which stock is the better buy today?

Here's a look at how both of these stocks have performed in 2020 compared to the S&P 500:

CL Chart

CL data by YCharts

Both Neptune and Colgate are outperforming the index and are proving to be good buys this year. Whichever stock is the better buy for you will ultimately depend on your investor profile. If you're primarily an income investor or someone who's looking for stability, Colgate is the right choice. It's a Dividend King that has increased its payouts for more than 50 consecutive years and currently pays a dividend yield of 2.4% -- slightly better than the 2% yield offered by the average S&P 500 stock. Colgate has also posted a profit in each of the last 10 years.

Neptune, with its greater exposure to the cannabis industry, can be a much more attractive buy for growth investors who are willing to take on some risk. Profitability is more of a challenge for Neptune, as it has only landed in the black only once in the past three years. The health and wellness stock also doesn't pay a dividend.

These two stocks are both solid long-term buys that can offer you different ways to benefit from the growth in the hand sanitizer market in the years to come. 

David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Colgate-Palmolive Stock Quote
Colgate-Palmolive
CL
$76.77 (-0.21%) $0.16
Neptune Wellness Solutions Stock Quote
Neptune Wellness Solutions
NEPT
$0.86 (4.28%) $0.04
International Flavors & Fragrances Stock Quote
International Flavors & Fragrances
IFF
$101.37 (0.46%) $0.46

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

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