There are more stocks that aren't great picks than there are that are great picks. This maxim isn't necessarily true for every category of stocks, but it does apply to coronavirus stocks. Quite a few of the public companies that have or are developing COVID-19 tests, personal protective equipment, therapies, or vaccines simply aren't good picks for investors.
However, that still leaves plenty of stocks that do hold the potential to deliver solid long-term returns. Here are three COVID stocks that I think are screaming buys right now.
1. Abbott Labs
Abbott Labs (ABT 0.30%) quickly emerged as a leader in COVID-19 diagnostic tests. The healthcare giant now markets seven COVID tests under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization (EUA), including its BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care test.
The company generated $881 million in sales from its COVID-19 tests in the third quarter. With the global pandemic continuing to rage, Abbott should make a lot more money over the next few quarters from its coronavirus diagnostic tests. But what happens for the stock once the pandemic ends? I think Abbott will still be in great shape.
For one thing, the need for COVID-19 testing won't evaporate. More importantly, though, Abbott has multiple other growth drivers. The one that especially stands out is its FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring device. I look for continued strong momentum for Libre for a long time to come.
Wall Street analysts project that Abbott will deliver average annual earnings growth of 13% over the next five years. The company is also a Dividend Aristocrat with steadily rising dividend payouts. Regardless of what happens with the COVID-19 pandemic, Abbott looks like a great pick.
Pfizer (PFE 1.28%) could play a key role in ending the pandemic. Its coronavirus vaccine BNT162b2 has already won regulatory authorizations in Canada and in the U.K. with a potential U.S. EUA imminent.
How significant is BNT162b2 to Pfizer's fortunes? The big drugmaker and its partner BioNTech could make $25 billion from the vaccine over the next five years, according to Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal. That estimate could be overly pessimistic since Gal is counting on COVID booster shots only every three years.
As exciting as its coronavirus vaccine's prospects are, though, there are other reasons to like Pfizer. The company expects to generate adjusted earnings-per-share growth of around 10% going forward. The merger of Pfizer's Upjohn unit with Mylan moved quite a few older drugs with declining sales out of Pfizer's lineup, leaving it with a stronger lineup featuring blockbusters such as Eliquis and Ibrance.
Pfizer's valuation appears to be attractive with shares trading at less than 14 times expected earnings. The drugmaker also offers a strong dividend that currently yields around 3.6%.
I think that the biggest winner in the COVID vaccine market next year just might be Novavax (NVAX 3.23%). Why? Novavax is the company with a late-stage coronavirus vaccine candidate that has the most to gain.
The biotech is currently evaluating its experimental COVID-19 vaccine NVX-CoV2373 in a late-stage study in the U.K. Interim results from that study could come in early 2021. Novavax also anticipates the initiation of a pivotal phase 3 study of its coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. within the next few weeks.
It's likely that Novavax could launch another potential blockbuster vaccine in the not-too-distant future. The company's flu vaccine candidate NanoFlu performed very well in phase 3 testing. Novavax needs to complete a lot-to-lot consistency trial before filing for FDA approval of the vaccine. It's also exploring an opportunity to combine NanoFlu with NVX-Cov2373 to have a combo flu/COVID-19 vaccine for post-pandemic use.
To be sure, Novavax is the riskiest of these three stocks. However, its market cap of less than $8 billion doesn't come close to reflecting the company's potential if its coronavirus vaccine is successful. My view is that Novavax is a promising pick for aggressive investors.