Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are in the spotlight right now, for obvious reasons, as the world watches to see which -- if any -- can find a cure and/or vaccine for the deadly coronavirus that has affected millions. As of July 31, the number of cases has touched the 17.3 million mark, with 674,000 deaths globally. In the U.S, the recorded cases stand at 4.5 million with 154,000 deaths.

But this isn't the only reason one should consider the pharma sector now -- especially this New York-based pharma company. Reasons for investing in Bristol Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) go beyond the coronavirus situation. Here's why adding this stock to your portfolio might be good for long-term growth.

Prescription tablets and capsules.

Image source: Getty Images.

Growth is outstanding

Investments in equities should always be made while looking at long-term opportunities, and growth is something Bristol Myers doesn't lack. That said, the performance of its stock this year might make you skeptical of its financial stability. Its shares are down 8.6% year to date; its industry peer Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has fallen 1.8%, while Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) shares are nearly flat. Meanwhile, the market as tracked by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF is up 1.25%.

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But note that Bristol Myers Squibb has been growing revenue and earnings consistently; the acquisition of Celgene made 2019 a remarkable year for the company, adding a splendid line of drugs to its portfolio. Celgene specializes in cancer therapies and autoimmune diseases, and the acquisition closed in November of 2019.

In its full-year 2019 results, released in February, Bristol Myers Squibb marked a 16% year-over-year increase in total revenue to $26.1 billion. But the acquisition wasn't the only reason for the boost in revenue. It has a robust line of products that have already been supportive of its sales growth.

Revenue increased in 2017, up 7% to $20.7 billion; in 2018, it was up 9% to $22.5 billion. Earnings have been expanding consistently as well. Its adjusted earnings rose by 6% year-over-year in 2017,  32% in 2018,  and 18% in 2019, respectively.

Robust product portfolio

Bristol Meyers Squibb's solid performance continued through the first quarter of fiscal 2020, reported on May 7, in which adjusted revenue was up by 13% to $10.7 billion, from $9.5 billion in Q1 2019. That's despite the COVID-19 crisis, meaning that demand for its products is not going down even in a distressed market.

Bristol Myers Squibb's strong financial position is the product of its dazzling portfolio of innovative drugs. The Celgene acquisition further boosted its portfolio by adding drugs including cancer treatments Revlimid, Pomalyst/Imnovid, Abraxane, and Reblozyl and bone marrow disorder treatment Inrebic, all of which combined to contribute 71% to its Q1 growth. Revlimid, which treats multiple myeloma, contributed the highest at $2.9 billion to total sales.

And Bristol Myers Squibb's own impressive set of products also contributed to its Q1 growth. Its anticoagulant drug Eliquis saw an impressive 37% jump in sales to $2.6 billion, while Orencia, which treats moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, also saw a sales increase of 12% from the year-ago period, to $714 million.

The dividend is an added benefit

The company's steady approach to capital allocation allows it to grow its earnings and dividends while keeping its balance sheet strong. Earnings in the first quarter went up by 56%. It also ended the quarter with cash, cash equivalents, and marketable debt securities of $19 billion and debt of $46.7 billion. Bristol Myers Squibb offers a current dividend yield of 3% against the S&P 500 s average of about 2%. Its annual dividend payout ratio, defined as the net income available to shareholders, stands at 77.9%.

On June 11, the company announced its quarterly dividend payment of $0.45, to be paid Aug. 3 to shareholders of record at the close of business July 6.

Certainly, the stocks in the COVID-19 vaccine race (like Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and BioNTech) look attractive now. But a strong biotech stock like Bristol Myers Squibb that has proved its potential is also worth a buy. Its innovative portfolio, revenue and earnings generation, carefully planned acquisition, consistent dividends, and strong balance sheet are all the reasons you need to demonstrate how this company could help you grow your money over the long term.