As the presidential election approaches, many investors are wondering how the outcome will impact the companies in their portfolio. That's why right now is a good time to choose a stock or two that will thrive regardless of who earns victory on Nov. 3. But is that easier said than done?
Let's talk about a company that has already seen a boost under the Trump administration and would probably continue to handsomely reward investors under a Joe Biden presidency: Abbott Laboratories (ABT 1.34%). Over the past several months, Abbott has mobilized many of its resources to contribute to the nationwide coronavirus testing effort. As long as COVID-19 remains a threat, the company stands to benefit.
Seven coronavirus tests
Abbott Labs has been building a leading position in COVID-19 testing since the early days of the pandemic. On March 18, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Abbott its first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for a coronavirus test. The company has since developed six more COVID-19 tests, each of which has won an EUA. Abbott's tests range from those that detect active infection to those that determine whether a person was infected with COVID-19 in the past.
The latest moves by both the Trump administration and the Biden campaign now indicate that both candidates are planning to prioritize COVID-19 testing.
The Trump administration has already placed its faith in Abbott. In August, the federal government awarded the company $760 million for 150 million of its BinaxNOW rapid detection tests. BinaxNOW tests are nasal swab tests that return results on site in 15 minutes. Abbott is launching a free digital app to provide people who test negative with a "digital health pass" displayed right on their phones. They can use this as proof that they've tested negative for the virus.
There has been a general movement toward more testing in recent months. The FDA has granted EUAs to more than 280 COVID-19 diagnostics so far. In a September speech announcing the Abbott award, Trump said the country had just completed its 100 millionth test. The U.S. has now conducted more tests than any other country, according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
A Biden election could be just as positive for Abbott, if not more so. The first "to-do" on Biden's list of actions to fight COVID-19 is to improve and increase the amount of testing done in the U.S. The candidate vows to double the number of drive-thru testing locations, which could certainly benefit Abbott. Biden also plans to invest in new types of tests, like those to be performed at home or those with instant results. And Biden favors the creation of a pandemic testing board to coordinate a nationwide testing effort. This would involve ramping up production of supplies, overseeing test distribution throughout the country, establishing testing sites, and staffing those sites.
Coronavirus tests comprise 10% of Abbott's total revenue
It's clear that as long as the coronavirus remains a threat, either a Democratic or a Republican win will result in more sales for Abbott's tests. And that could be significant -- even for a $188 billion company with diagnostic, medical device, nutrition, and pharmaceuticals businesses. The company's COVID-19 diagnostics generated $881 million in revenue in the third quarter. That's almost 10% of Abbott's total revenue for the period. And that quarter, which ended Sept. 30, doesn't reflect the potential of Abbott's new $5, 15-minute portable test -- the one the U.S. government recently ordered.
After the FDA authorized the BinaxNOW test in late August, Abbott almost immediately started shipping tens of millions of tests. Abbott said it would ship 50 million tests a month as of October. We can expect this to boost COVID-19 diagnostics revenue in the coming quarter and beyond.
Abbott Labs isn't going anywhere
It's too early to say whether COVID-19 diagnostics will make up a larger portion of Abbott's revenue in the future -- even if sales keep growing. That's because the coronavirus health crisis has put the brakes on sales of Abbott's other products this year. Healthcare facilities postponed many nonessential procedures and laboratories performed fewer tests unrelated to coronavirus. As these sales bounce back in the coming quarters, total revenue is likely to grow. That may make it difficult for COVID-19 testing sales to make up a greater portion of overall sales. And that's OK -- no one wants the pandemic to last forever.
The thriving COVID-19 testing business plus a recovery in Abbott's other segments paints a bright picture of revenues for this healthcare company. And the current COVID-19 testing policies of President Trump and his challenger Biden mean that Abbott's program will continue to grow as long as the coronavirus is around.