As the vaccine rollout ramps up, the end of coronavirus pandemic in just about in sight. In turn, investors have begun to focus more on a recovery and stocks that will be good buys once COVID-19 is a thing of the past. In the last month, shares of travel companies like Boeing and Royal Caribbean are up around 20%, while the S&P 500 has been flat. For investors, that creates opportunities in other segments, as stocks that have done well amid the pandemic are falling out of favor and are now available at cheaper prices.
Two stocks that are particularly attractive buys right now are Zoom Video Communications (ZM 3.20%) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN 1.37%). They have been underperforming the markets lately, but their businesses still look to be in good shape, even if you expect the pandemic to come under control in the months ahead.
Regeneron's stock is down just 2.4% over the past month, but when looking at a six-month window, those declines reach 13% and are nearly a reverse image of the S&P 500's positive 16% gains during that period. Although Regeneron is far from just a COVID-19 stock, it rose in popularity last fall when former President Donald Trump was given its antibody cocktail, REGEN-COV2, when he contracted COVID.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has since issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the cocktail to treat COVID-19, but that hasn't given the stock much of a lift. Although REGEN-COV2 did give the company's sales a boost of $185.7 million in 2020, that made up just 3.3% of total product sales of $5.6 billion.
When the company reported its fourth-quarter earnings on Feb. 5, Regeneron's top line grew by 30% to $2.4 billion for the period ending Dec. 31, 2020. Sales from Eylea, its eye medication, rose by 10%. And the company's collaboration revenue from its partnerships with Sanofi and Bayer increased by more than 40%. Regeneron noted strong 56% sales growth in Dupixent, a monoclonal antibody that treats allergic diseases. The company shares in the profits on that product with Sanofi.
Although Regeneron generated significant sales growth during the period, its operating expenses only grew by less than 6%, allowing much of that top-line growth to flow down into net income. The company's Q4 profits totaled $1.1 billion and rose 45% year over year.
Whether you are worried about the pandemic or not, this is a solid healthcare stock to put into your portfolio today. Currently, it is trading at a price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple of less than 16, which is far below the average stock in the Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund, which trades at more than 27 times its profits. Regeneron's multiple hasn't been this low since 2019.
Another stock that has benefitted from the our stay-at-home normal is video communications company, Zoom. The business thrived in 2020 in part because its easy-to-use videoconferencing service enabled companies and individuals to connect from home. With the click of a link, user can join a virtual meeting with hundreds of attendees within a matter of seconds.
But when the pandemic ends, or at least when more people are back to being in the office, the need for Zoom's services could decline. That is what many investors may be worried about today -- especially for a stock that has more than tripled in value over the past year (while the S&P 500 has increased by 66%).
Some of the bullishness around Zoom has certainly worn off. Zoom's stock has fallen by 25% over the past month. Its share price nearly fell below $300, a threshold it has been comfortably above since September of last year. Even a strong earnings report hasn't been enough to get the stock out of its funk.
On March 1, Zoom released its fourth-quarter numbers, and the company's sales and profits both came in better than analyst expectations. Its Q4 sales of $882.5 million for the period ending Jan. 31 were up an incredible 369% from the prior-year period. It finished the year with $2.65 billion in revenue, which is $2 billion more than it reported in the previous year.
The company's bottom line may be the most impressive line item. At $56.1 million, GAAP income from operations for this past quarter was 2327% above the same 2019 metric.
There is no doubt that Zoom has a tough act to follow this year, but the company still anticipates its sales to rise by 42%. The problem is that with a forward P/E ratio of just under 90, it is still an expensive buy with respect to its earnings (the average stock in the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund trades at 34 times its profits).
However, with high-growth stocks like Zoom, earnings numbers can change quickly. And although some investors are starting to look past the pandemic, there is still a lot of value here. As Zoom's sales start to slow down, it can give the company an opportunity to focus more on its expenses and making its operations more profitable.
While shares of this top tech stock are down right now, investors shouldn't count Zoom out just yet. The need for virtual conference calls could remain strong this year and beyond, as pandemic-induced habits begin to stick around in the new normal.