The ongoing rollout of the first authorized coronavirus vaccine has heaps of everyday investors wondering if Pfizer (PFE 0.52%), the company credited with making it happen so quickly, could be a solid investment right now.
The short answer is an enthusiastic yes, but the company's successful COVID-19 vaccine doesn't top the list of reasons to buy this pharma stock right now. Here are four reasons everyday investors can reasonably expect a market-beating return from this pharma stock over the long run.
1. Pfizer stock pays dividends
You don't need to understand a single step of the drug development process to know that Pfizer is a cut above the average drugmaker. Instead of plowing every penny earned back into a business that may or may not grow, Pfizer is committed to paying shareholders a growing share of its bottom line.
Since 2010, Pfizer's payout has more than doubled through a series of modest annual increases. The details regarding Pfizer's dividend after the first quarter of 2021 are still a bit hazy following the recent spinoff of the company's post-market-exclusivity brands into Viatris (PFE 0.52%).
At the moment, it looks like Pfizer shareholders will receive a payment in the first quarter that's 3% higher than the previous quarter. Pfizer's dividend will drop somewhat when Viatris begins making its first dividend payments in the second quarter, but the company's commitment to delivering its shareholders a growing profit is stronger than ever.
2. Pfizer is pfocused on the pfuture
Compared to intellectual property rights for most inventions, market-exclusivity rights regarding new drugs are incredibly short-lived. For example, the crucial patent regarding a new drug's composition is generally good for 25 years.
Traveling the path from a new drug's discovery to an FDA approval usually takes a decade or longer, which gives companies like Pfizer a limited window to recoup their cost of developing new drugs that succeed and pay for all their failures.
Pfizer keeps its pipeline of experimental and early commercial-stage drugs full of potential new revenue streams through collaboration deals and outright acquisitions. More than its big pharma peers, a slimmed-down Pfizer can focus on finding smaller drugmakers that lack the resources they need to rapidly develop their experimental treatments.
3. A coronavirus vaccine sales bump
The recent Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of BNT162b2 to vaccinate against COVID-19 is a big deal, but it's not at the top of this list, for reasons people new to pharmaceutical stocks don't always appreciate. Pfizer will need to share any profits from its recently authorized coronavirus vaccine with BioNTech (BNTX 1.48%), the collaboration partner that originally developed their COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer didn't accept initial government funding to rapidly develop BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, but that doesn't mean investors can expect a high price and wide profit margins. Pfizer will most likely have to compete with a similar vaccine from Moderna (MRNA 0.46%) that could be significantly easier to distribute.
It depends on how quickly Pfizer can produce and distribute its COVID-19 vaccine, but 11-figure sales in 2021 are a real possibility. That said, it's important to realize EUAs aren't the same as approvals that allow companies to actually market a vaccine as a commercial-stage product, and this would be the first time in the FDA's history that an unapproved drug generates blockbuster sales.
4. Big cash flows to work with
As partial consideration for spinning off assets into Viatris, Pfizer is set to receive $12 billion, which will give the company more chances to invest in potential new sources of revenue. Investors will be glad to learn that the company hardly needs sales from its COVID-19 vaccine or big cash injections from Viatris to operate as a major player in the biopharmaceutical industry.
Pfizer expects cash flow from its slimmed-down operations to reach between $10 billion and $11 billion this year from total revenue expected to fall between $40.8 billion and $42.4 billion. We still don't know how much to expect in 2021, but COVID-19 vaccine sales and payment from Viatris will probably give Pfizer the means to raise its dividend payout next year without missing any investment opportunities that could produce the company's next blockbuster drugs.
Buy the dip
Shares of Pfizer have tumbled over the past few days because the distribution of its COVID-19 vaccine hasn't been as explosive as expected. Recent disappointment has lowered the stock's price to roughly the same level investors were paying at the beginning of 2020.
With an outlook for the company that appears better now than it did at the beginning of the year, now's a great time to add this pharmaceutical stock to your portfolio.