There's a pretty good chance that you now have an extra $1,400 on your hands. The latest round of stimulus payments has already been distributed to many Americans. If you meet the eligibility criteria, your payment should be on the way if you haven't already received it.
The best thing to do with the money is to pay off any outstanding bills and make sure you have an emergency savings account established. What's the next best thing to do with your stimulus payment? Invest it.
One top alternative for investing your newfound cash is to buy stocks of companies that provide coronavirus testing, therapies, or vaccines. Even with hopes that the end of the pandemic might be near, COVID-19 will likely remain with us for a long time to come. But problems also present opportunities for investors. If you've got $1,400 to invest, here are three COVID stocks to buy and hold for the long term.
1. Abbott Labs
Abbott Labs (ABT 0.44%) achieved remarkable success in developing and marketing diagnostic tests for COVID-19. The company's COVID tests generated $2.4 billion in sales during the fourth quarter of 2020.
CEO Robert Ford said in Abbott's Q4 conference call that he expects that COVID-19 "testing demand is still going to remain high, even as the vaccines roll out." The emergence of new coronavirus variants could continue to drive demand for Abbott's diagnostic tests in the years to come.
But Abbott isn't solely dependent on its COVID testing for growth. Continuous glucose monitoring system FreeStyle Libre stands at the top of the list. Libre Sense Glucose Sport extends Abbott's wearable biosensor focus beyond diabetes.
MitraClip G4, the latest version of the company's system to repair leaky mitral heart valves, now has expanded Medicare coverage that gives it a much larger potential market. And those are just a few of the company's products poised to generate increasingly higher sales.
Analysts project that Abbott's earnings will grow by nearly 16%, on average, annually over the next five years. The company also pays a solid dividend to boot. Look for that dividend to continue to increase: Abbott ranks as a Dividend Aristocrat, with 49 consecutive years of dividend hikes.
2. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.63%) boasts an even more impressive dividend track record than Abbott. The healthcare giant is a Dividend King with an impressive 58 years in a row of dividend increases. J&J will probably soon extend that streak by another year.
The company currently markets the only single-dose COVID-19 vaccine available in the U.S. and Europe. Right now, Johnson & Johnson is selling the vaccine at cost for emergency pandemic use. However, the profits will likely begin to pour in once the pandemic is over.
J&J's medical-device business has been negatively impacted by the pandemic as medical procedures have been postponed. The good news, though, is that the increased availability of vaccines (including the company's own vaccine) is helping turn things around.
Over the long run, Johnson & Johnson should be able to deliver consistent, solid growth. The company's diversification across multiple areas of healthcare, including consumer health products, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals, makes J&J one of the safest healthcare stocks on the market to buy and hold.
Few companies have made as big of an impact in fighting COVID-19 as Pfizer (PFE 0.52%). The big drugmaker, along with its partner BioNTech, became the first to win U.S. Emergency Use Authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine in December.
Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine sales could easily top $20 billion this year. The company expects that annual booster shots will be required. If it's right, Pfizer should have solid recurring revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine for a long time to come. The company is also developing an oral antiviral drug for treating COVID-19.
Like Abbott and Johnson & Johnson, though, Pfizer isn't dependent on its COVID-related programs for success. The company's current lineup includes multiple blockbuster products with rising sales. Pfizer also has a loaded pipeline with 24 late-stage programs.
Although Pfizer isn't a Dividend Aristocrat or a Dividend King, the drugmaker offers one of the most attractive dividends around. With its great dividend and strong growth prospects, Pfizer should be able to deliver solid total returns for investors over the long term.