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2 Healthcare Stocks to Buy in 2021 and Hold for the Next Decade

By Adria Cimino - Jan 14, 2021 at 7:01AM

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If you sell too quickly, you'll miss out on billions of dollars in product revenue -- and share performance.

When choosing a health stock to hold for a decade, I'm looking for its ability to grow revenue for that period of time or longer. It's also important to look at the profitability situation. If the company is clinical-stage, we can accept losses in favor of investment in growth. If the company has at least a few commercialized products, we'll want to see profit now, or a path to it down the road.

Here, I'm choosing two established players that have a track record of revenue and profit. And they both have newish products that will drive sales for many years to come. Let's take a closer look.

A woman's hand holds an hourglass against a sunset background, surrounded by sparkling dollar signs

Image source: Getty Images.


Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX 0.08% ) is the maker of four commercialized cystic fibrosis (CF) treatments. The latest is blockbuster Trikafta, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2019. Vertex is the top player in the field. But here's even better news: The company expects to maintain its market leadership until at least the late 2030s.

CF drugs may bring the company as much as $6.2 billion in full-year 2020 product revenue, according to Vertex's guidance. And that figure could reach more than $10 billion in 2028, Morningstar research shows.

Meanwhile, Vertex is preparing for the future -- and that means expanding its therapeutic areas. So far, it's brought programs into human trials in pain, blood disorders, and lung and liver disease alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Of these, the most advanced are in phase 2 studies. According to Stat News, the company said at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference this week that it's also ready to acquire mid-stage and late-stage candidates. Considering Vertex's wealth of cash and climbing revenue, it's in a solid position to do so.

The company has more than $5.3 billion in cash and equivalents -- its highest level ever. And annual revenue reached a record of more than $4 billion in 2019:

VRTX Cash and Equivalents (Quarterly) Chart

VRTX Cash and Equivalents (Quarterly) data by YCharts.

CF treatments alone promise Vertex billions of dollars in revenue for nearly two decades to come. The company said at the J.P. Morgan conference that its drugs now could treat as many as 83,000 people worldwide; that's up from its earlier estimate of 75,000. So Vertex has time on its side as it looks for tomorrow's winning treatment area.


Everyone has been talking about Abbott Laboratories ( ABT -0.04% ) for its role in coronavirus testing. The FDA has granted Emergency Use Authorization to eight of Abbott's coronavirus tests. And the company so far has generated more than $1 billion from them. It's too early to say whether these tests will become a lasting part of Abbott's revenue picture.

But Abbott has plenty of other products to drive revenue, even if coronavirus testing sales eventually wane. The company's businesses include diagnostics, medical devices, nutrition, and pharmaceuticals.

Last year, regulators in the U.S. and Europe cleared next-generation versions of one of Abbott's star products: the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring system for diabetes. In the third quarter, FreeStyle Libre sales climbed more than 37%. And sales in the overall diabetes care business rose more than 26% in the quarter.

European regulators recently cleared the fourth-generation MitraClip. It's the world's leading minimally invasive mitral valve repair device. The U.S. cleared this latest version in 2019.

Most recently, Abbott announced FDA clearance of its traumatic brain injury blood test. It's the first rapid, handheld blood test to detect concussions. In the U.S., about five million people annually go to emergency rooms with concussions, according to a paper on a National Institutes of Health website.

Abbott's revenue and profit have gained over the past two years. And the future looks bright too: Earnings estimates for the current fiscal year are on the rise.

ABT Revenue (Annual) Chart

ABT Revenue (Annual) data by YCharts.

I wouldn't buy Vertex and Abbott for the short term; these healthcare companies' products are set to boost revenue for years to come. The best strategy to take with Vertex and Abbott is to buy now and hold the shares for at least a decade.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Stocks Mentioned

Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated Stock Quote
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated
$205.22 (0.08%) $0.16
Abbott Laboratories Stock Quote
Abbott Laboratories
$132.42 (-0.04%) $0.05

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