Testing is a major part of conquering the coronavirus crisis. If governments test as many people as possible, those who are sick or carry the virus can self-quarantine, which prevents further spread of the virus. So, investing in a company that already has not one -- but six -- coronavirus tests on the market is a good idea.
In only a few months, Abbott Laboratories (ABT -0.98%) has become a major player in the testing field. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted each of Abbott's tests emergency use authorization (EUA). If you have $1,000 to invest and are looking for a coronavirus stock to buy in October, Abbott makes a great candidate. The company has started to generate revenue from its COVID-19 tests. And that should continue as the U.S. tries to contain the virus in the months to come.
Abbott entered the coronavirus scene back in March, when the FDA granted EUA to its first COVID-19 test. The test was meant to run on an Abbott device available at many hospitals in the U.S. That way, analysis could be done closer to the patient rather at an outside laboratory.
Results in five minutes
Abbott followed up with a variety of other tests. The company created a portable test that produces positive results in five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes. It introduced an antibody blood test to detect if a person has had COVID-19. And most recently, the FDA granted EUA for Abbott's $5, 15-minute antigen test. Due to portability, low cost, and ease-of-use, this test facilitates mass testing across populations.
Sales from some of the tests have already contributed to Abbott's diagnostics business. In the second quarter, Abbott's COVID-19 tests generated $615 million in revenue. That didn't include sales from the new antigen test, which received EUA following the earnings report. But initial revenue from that test may contribute to the third-quarter report set for later this month. Abbott planned on shipping millions of the tests in September, the last month of the quarter.
The U.S. has conducted more than 120 million COVID-19 tests as of Oct. 7, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. This figure doesn't include antigen or antibody tests. It only includes laboratory tests that detect nucleic acids from the virus in a nasal swab sample. And it doesn't refer specifically to tests by Abbott. The FDA has granted 180 molecular COVID-19 tests EUA, according to a list on the regulatory agency's website. Abbott clearly shares this market with others. But considering the depth of the crisis, there should be room for plenty of players.
A boost for flagging revenue
COVID-19 testing helped buoy Abbott's flagging revenue during the crisis as other lab tests and procedures with the company's medical devices were postponed. Abbott reported a 5.4% decline in second-quarter sales.
Now, imagine that demand for COVID-19 testing wanes at some point in the future. That isn't much of a problem for Abbott. Revenue from COVID-19 testing was only 8.4% of total revenue in the second quarter. And revenue from the rest of Abbott's portfolio is sure to rebound from the recent slowdown as laboratories and hospitals resume usual operations. That means Abbott will continue to generate most of its revenue from other tests as well as medical devices.
Abbott has been growing revenue since 2013. But revenue really took off in 2017 with the acquisitions of St. Jude Medical and Alere Inc., which added medical device and diagnostic strength, respectively. New product launches, including 12 in cardiovascular and more than 25 in nutrition, also drove growth.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Abbott continued to deliver. For the full year 2019, revenue climbed 7.7% to more than $31 billion. Sales rose in every business segment, led by medical devices with 10.5% growth.
The coronavirus crisis isn't over. But it is a temporary situation. While Abbott will benefit from ongoing COVID-19 testing, the best news for the company lies beyond the outbreak. That's why Abbott is the best coronavirus stock and healthcare stock to buy right now.