In the U.K., the government is enforcing more restrictions in the wake of rising COVID-19 case numbers. In the U.S., President Donald Trump says the same won't happen here. However, a lot could change in the coming weeks and months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a problem that just won't go away.
If you want to take the safe route with respect to your portfolio, now may be a good time to look at investing in companies that will do well even if the government issues stay-at-home orders in the near future. Among the companies that could prosper under this scenario are Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Adobe (NASDAQ:ADBE), and Target (NYSE:TGT). Here's why you should consider investing in these stocks to minimize your risk in case there are wide-scale shutdowns.
1. Abbott Labs
Medical device maker and testing company Abbott Labs is diverse enough that its business will likely continue to do well even if the economy shuts down again. The company has been integral in helping people test for COVID-19. In August, it unveiled BinaxNOW, an antigen test that only costs $5 and takes 15 minutes to generate results. Management plans to produce as many as 50 million tests in October, and as of Aug. 14, it had shipped more than 7 million rapid ID NOW tests, over 6 million molecular tests, and more than 13 million antibody tests since the outbreak began. With BinaxNOW, those numbers will get a whole lot higher.
If there are shutdowns, there's going to be an even bigger need for more testing to ensure that a subsequent reopening of the economy can be done safely. With the quick, cheap tests Abbott is able to mass-produce, the company is in a great position to meet that demand.
And if the government doesn't impose further restrictions, Abbott will still do well. On July 16, the company reported its second-quarter results (covering the period through the end of June), and revenue of $7.3 billion was down a modest 8.2%. That's not bad given that the period had been marred by lockdowns. Sales from its nutrition segment even rose slightly, by 0.4%, and diagnostics revenue climbed 4.7% from the prior-year period. However, established pharmaceutical sales fell 8.6%, and the medical devices segment had the worst performance, with a 21.2% decline in revenue as a result of hospitals deferring procedures during the quarter.
With a broad mix of products and services, Abbott is versatile enough to handle any headwinds related to COVID-19, and it's one of the safer healthcare stocks investors can put in their portfolios today.
Investing in tech is another great move investors can make if they're worried about shutdowns. The industry is well-equipped to accommodate remote workers, and digital products and services that don't depend on in-person traffic can even rise in value as people stay at home.
The company last released its results on Sept. 15 for the period ending Aug. 28, posting posted record revenue of $3.2 billion for the third quarter. Its sales were up 14% year over year, while diluted earnings per share of $1.97 grew by 22%. The company's bread and butter, the digital media segment, accounted for the bulk of the revenue at $2.3 billion, up 19%. This is the segment of Adobe's business that contains its flagship products, including Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat.
Most of the revenue Adobe generates is on a recurring, subscription basis. In Q3, $3 billion of its $3.2 billion in revenue was from subscriptions, accounting for more than 93% of its top line. A year ago, that percentage was 90%. If more people work from home during a shutdown, that will only increase the demand for Adobe's products as professionals access the company's products and services remotely. And as with Abbott, even if there isn't a lockdown, there's little reason to worry that Adobe's popular products will suddenly run out of favor with its longtime customers.
Target rounds out the list with an investment option from yet another industry. Retail as a whole may not be a safe place to invest, but big-box retailers are the one exception. Consumers who need to cut down on the number of trips they make will find that doing all their shopping in one place is a lot easier than visiting multiple stores. That's what makes Target a solid investment amid the pandemic.
The company released second-quarter earnings Aug. 19, showing that its sales of $23 billion were up 24.7% year over year. A big part of that success was thanks to digital sales, which grew at a rate of 195%. Pick-up and delivery services are proving to be especially popular with people staying at home. In Q2, Target's same-day services, which include both delivery and pick-up options, soared 273%.
If things in the economy were returning to normal, Target might see its growth numbers start to slow down. But with COVID-19 cases continuing to climb, that doesn't appear likely anytime soon. If there are shutdowns in the future, consumers can still easily make purchases online through Target's website, with many different options for receiving them.
Which stock is the best to buy today?
All three stocks listed above can be great investments for the long term and to hedge your portfolio in the event that there are further shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. But if you're only looking to add one stock to your portfolio, let's assess all three to determine which one is the best option right now. Here's how all three stocks are doing this year against the S&P 500:
They've all dominated and outperformed the index, with Adobe being the clear winner thus far. A good way to compare their respective values moving forward is by looking at their forward price-to-earnings multiples:
I'd go with Target today. Its share price is the cheapest of the three, and it's a top stock you can hang on to for the long term, whatever happens with the coronavirus.