Great growth prospects might be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about coronavirus stocks. And several companies with COVID-19 programs certainly do have strong growth opportunities.

On the other hand, it's likely that dividends wouldn't be the first thought on most investors' minds when the topic of coronavirus stocks arises. But there actually are quite a few companies focused on developing COVID-19 tests, therapies, and vaccines that offer attractive dividends. Here are three coronavirus stocks with the highest dividend yields.

Man wearing coat and tie holding cash and a small glove with a mask around it

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1. Takeda Pharmaceutical

Takeda Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TAK) ranks at the top of the list of high-yielding coronavirus stocks with a dividend yield of 4.83%. However, the Japanese drugmaker's dividend track record isn't as impressive. Takeda's dividend has fallen more than 20% over the last 10 years.

The company's efforts to fight COVID-19 don't get as much attention as some of its rivals. Takeda is collaborating with other companies to develop a hyperimmune globulin (H-IG) candidate targeting COVID-19. H-IGs are plasma-derived therapies that have demonstrated efficacy in treating other severe viral infections.

Takeda's lineup includes several drugs that should continue to drive growth. These include inflammatory bowel disease drug Entyvio and antidepressant Trintellix. The company also anticipates a significant expansion in China with prospects of more than 15 drug approvals over the next five years.

Some investors might be concerned that Takeda's debt could impact the company's ability to keep its dividend at current levels. However, Takeda is quickly paying down its debt. Chief Financial Officer Costa Saroukos stated in the company's quarterly conference call in May that Takeda has "great confidence in our ability to maintain the dividend at this level."

2. AbbVie

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) runs neck-and-neck with Takeda. The big drugmaker's dividend currently yields 4.81%. In addition, AbbVie is a Dividend Aristocrat with 47 consecutive years of dividend increases.

The company's HIV drug Kaletra flopped in a clinical study targeting COVID-19 earlier this year. However, AbbVie is evaluating Imbruvica in a phase 2 study to see if its cancer drug can reduce severe immune responses known as cytokine storms in COVID-19 patients. It also teamed up with Harbour BioMed, Utrecht University, and Erasmus Medical Center to develop an antibody therapy candidate to prevent and treat COVID-19.

AbbVie might not be able to deliver exceptional earnings growth over the next few years to go along with its attractive dividend. The company's top-selling drug, Humira, faces competition from biosimilars in the U.S. beginning in 2023. 

Still, though, AbbVie shouldn't have any problems keeping the dividends flowing. Its lineup includes several other drugs for which sales are growing briskly, notably including blood cancer drugs Imbruvica and Venclexta and new autoimmune-disease drugs Rinvoq and Skyrizi. AbbVie's recent acquisition of Allergan will also reduce its dependence on Humira.

3. GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) comes in third place after AbbVie. The London-based pharmaceutical company offers a dividend that currently yields 4.59%.

Two of the 24 or counting COVID-19 vaccine candidates in clinical testing have direct connections with GSK. Clover Pharmaceuticals and Medicago each have candidates in phase 1 clinical trials that use GSK's adjuvant technology. GSK also partnered with Sanofi to develop a COVID-19 vaccine candidate that's expected to begin clinical testing this year. 

GSK faces several headwinds. Sales for older products, particularly respiratory drug Advair, continue to weigh on the company's growth. HIV drugs Tivicay and Triumeq are also losing market share. The company expects its earnings to decline year over year in 2020. Analysts project low single-digit-percentage earnings growth over the next five years.

The good news is that GSK's dividend doesn't appear to be in jeopardy. The company has several products for which sales are soaring, including respiratory drug Trelegy Ellipta, HIV drugs Juluca and Dovato, and shingles vaccine Shingrix. Momentum for these and some of GSK's other products should generate sufficient cash flow to keep the dividend yield relatively high.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.