You could make a pretty good case that November is the most important month in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic so far. We've had updates from late-stage clinical studies that pointed to very high efficacy levels for two leading coronavirus vaccine candidates. There have also been key advances in COVID-19 testing and another Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency-use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 therapy.
Big news often presents big opportunities for investors. The best companies to invest in aren't necessarily limited to those generating news, though. Here are three top coronavirus stocks to buy in November.
1. Abbott Labs
Abbott Labs (NYSE:ABT) reigns as the biggest player in the COVID-19 testing market. The company currently sells six COVID-19 tests that have received FDA EUA. Abbott reported third-quarter sales related to its COVID-19 testing products and services totaling $881 million.
The BinaxNOW test is arguably the most important COVID-19 diagnostic in Abbott's lineup. This test costs only $5 and can deliver results within 15 minutes. Abbott has ramped up production to crank out 50 million BinaxNOW tests per month.
While COVID-19 testing has become a huge market for Abbott, the healthcare giant has plenty of other growth drivers. Wall Street analysts project that Abbott will generate average annual earnings growth of 13% over the next five years. Hot products, including the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring system and the MitraClip device for leaky heart valves, should help fuel the company's growth.
Investors should also like Abbott's dividend track record. The company belongs to the elite group of stocks known as Dividend Aristocrats -- S&P 500 members that have raised their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. Abbott has nearly doubled that threshold with a remarkable streak of 48 years in a row of dividend hikes.
Earlier this week, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) reported interim results from a late-stage study that showed its coronavirus vaccine candidate mRNA1273 achieved an efficacy of 94.5%. It expects to file for FDA EUA of the experimental vaccine within the next few weeks.
The biotech also announced several other positive developments this week. Moderna revealed that its latest formulation of mRNA-1273 has a longer shelf life at refrigerated temperatures, which could give it a competitive advantage. It signed an agreement with the U.K. to supply doses of its coronavirus vaccine as early as March 2021. The company also announced that the European Medicines Agency has begun a rolling review of the regulatory approval filing for mRNA-1273.
Moderna could be on the cusp of raking in billions of dollars in sales for mRNA-1273. It's important to note, though, that there's already a lot of growth related to the COVID-19 vaccine baked into the biotech's share price. However, Moderna still looks like a top coronavirus stock to buy because of its pipeline.
Success for mRNA-1273 could translate to higher prospects for all of Moderna's messenger RNA (mRNA) programs. The biotech's pipeline currently includes five other anti-viral vaccine candidates plus two cancer vaccine candidates in clinical studies. Moderna also has several other clinical-stage mRNA therapeutic programs in development.
Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) lags behind Moderna with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373. However, it could achieve a major milestone in November that could pave the way for big things in the not-too-distant future.
The company is already evaluating NVX-CoV2373 in a late-stage study in the U.K. Novavax expects to begin a U.S. phase 3 study of the experimental coronavirus vaccine later this month. It won't be surprising if the biotech stock enjoys a nice bump if and when NVX-CoV2373 advances into late-stage testing in the U.S.
Like Moderna, Novavax has picked up several key supply agreements for its experimental coronavirus vaccine. If all goes well with late-stage testing, the company should be in a great position to make a boatload of money in a short period of time.
Novavax also has a promising influenza vaccine candidate, NanoFlu, for which it hopes to win FDA approval. It's exploring the potential to put NanoFlu and NVX-CoV2373 together to have a combo flu/COVID-19 vaccine for after the pandemic is over.
Which of these three top coronavirus stocks is the best pick? It depends on your investing style.
If you're a more conservative investor, Abbott is the obvious choice. The company's stability, solid growth prospects, and strong dividend make it an attractive stock. Aggressive investors will likely prefer Moderna or Novavax. Between these two biotech stocks, Novavax probably has more room to run in the near term because of its small size.