There are several benefits to investing in large-cap stocks -- that is, companies with a market cap of more than $10 billion. These businesses tend to be reputable and well-established within their respective industries, which makes buying shares a bit less risky than with smaller companies, at least in general.
For investors focused on the long run, here are two large-cap companies that I think are worth buying right now: Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Let's see why these two well-known juggernauts are excellent picks for long-term investors.
Don't count this healthcare giant out just yet
With a market cap of roughly $387 billion, Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. But even this behemoth isn't sailing through the coronavirus crisis unscathed. During the second quarter, the company's sales came in at $18.3 billion, a 10.8% year-over-year decrease. Also, Johnson & Johnson's earnings per share (EPS) were $1.36, 34.6% lower than the prior-year quarter.
The market's reaction to the healthcare giant's second-quarter results was basically a shrug. After all, one bad quarter in the midst of an unprecedented worldwide crisis does little to undo Johnson & Johnson's long and stellar track record. And while the future does matter more to investors than the past, there are still excellent reasons to buy shares of Johnson & Johnson today. Here are three.
First, consider the company's diversified operations. Johnson & Johnson is a leader in the pharmaceutical industry and boasts several blockbuster drugs. One of them, cancer drug Imbruvica, posted a 14.1% increase in sales during the second quarter, to $949 million. However, the healthcare company is also active within the medical devices market, and its consumer health segment features several famous over-the-counter product lines such as Neutrogena.
Second, Johnson & Johnson is unlikely to run into financial troubles. As evidence of this fact, consider that the company has an AAA credit rating, the highest possible, from Standard & Poor's.
Last but not least, with more than 50 consecutive years of dividend increases, Johnson & Johnson is a Dividend Aristocrat. The company currently offers a yield of 2.6% (compared with 1.8% for the S&P 500), along with a healthy cash payout ratio of 58.3%.
All these factors make Johnson & Johnson a strong stock pick, particularly for those investors who are in it for the long haul.
Amazon is (almost) unstoppable
While the pandemic has disrupted many businesses, e-commerce giant Amazon is doing just fine. In fact, the crisis helped boost the company's financial performance. During the second quarter, the tech company blew past revenue and earnings estimates. Here are just some of the key metrics from Amazon's latest quarterly update:
- Net sales soared by 40% year over year to $88.9 billion.
- Operating income also increased significantly to hit $5.8 billion during the second quarter, compared with $3.1 billion in the prior-year quarter.
- The company's earnings per share nearly doubled year over year, from $5.32 to $10.50.
- Amazon's free cash flow for the trailing-12-month period was $31.9 billion, compared with $25 billion recorded during the same period of the previous fiscal year.
Amazon will continue to thrive for the duration of the pandemic. The company's e-commerce platform is a go-to option in the age of social distancing. In particular, Amazon's grocery sales have increased significantly amid the crisis. According to the company's CFO, Brian Olsavsky, "grocery sales tripled year over year." Amazon is also experiencing an uptick in video streaming, thanks to its Amazon Prime video service. Again, this is likely a result of people spending more time at home.
Beyond the pandemic, Amazon enjoys several tailwinds that will help it continue to outperform the market. The first of these is the growth of the e-commerce industry. E-commerce sales still accounted for just 11.5% of total retail sales in the first quarter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As one of the biggest and most recognizable names in this space, Amazon is sure to profit from our increasing reliance on e-commerce.
Second, with its Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company is also one of the most prominent players in the cloud computing space. The company said that AWS is likely to bring in $43 billion a year -- and it could just be getting started. The cloud computing market is set to grow to a total of $331 billion by 2022, up from $214 billion in 2019, according to the research firm Gartner.
There's one thing to consider for those looking to invest in Amazon. The company's shares are currently trading at about $3,162 apiece, which isn't a cheap price point -- not by a long shot. For investors not willing to spend that much money to acquire just one share of a company, it might be worth buying a portion of a single share of Amazon via the magic of fractional shares. Investing in fractional shares is a great way to buy a piece of a company for a more affordable price; Amazon is a great stock to consider for those who want to go that route.
With a healthy market share in two fast-growing industries, Amazon will continue to perform well in the market, and investors would be smart to add its shares -- or even a portion of a whole share -- to their portfolios.