A bad earnings report may cause short-term fluctuations in a stock's price, but it isn't necessarily a reason to give up on an otherwise quality investment. Three stocks that are in that boat today are Merck (MRK 0.21%), Kimberly Clark (KMB 0.87%), and Citrix (CTXS -0.05%).
These stocks offer investors some quality dividend income that could last for many years. And now, with their share prices facing some downward pressure, it could be a great time to scoop up these stocks.
Drug manufacturer Merck released its first-quarter results on April 29, and investors weren't impressed. Its sales for the first three months of 2021 totaled $12.1 billion and were flat from the same period a year ago. The pandemic has negatively affected the company's results, particularly on the sale of its human papillomavirus vaccine, Gardasil, which saw its sales fall by 16%, or $180 million in part due to stay-at-home orders and fewer trips to doctors offices.
If not for that drop, Merck's top line would be in positive growth territory, as cancer-fighting drug Keytruda generated 19% sales growth and the company's animal health revenue also rose by an impressive 17%.
Although the stock has bounced back since initially falling below $74 after releasing the results, it still remains close to its 52-week low of $71.72. And Merck looks to be in a good position to rally from here on out. Management is projecting that for 2021, its revenue would rise by up to 12% this year on a comparative basis. That is if Organon, which includes its women's health segment and legacy brands, were to stay a part of the business for the entire year. This won't happen, as Merck is spinning off and its first day of trading as its own stock is slated for June 3.
Although Merck will have fewer drugs in its portfolio once the deal is done, it won't necessarily be worse off. The drugs leaving to Organon are mainly part of the cardiovascular, women's health, and diversified brands segments of the company's business. Those three components made up $4.1 billion in revenue last year. There will also be roughly $2.5 billion worth of drugs in its "other pharmaceutical" area that will be leaving, putting the total dent in the company's annual revenue somewhere around $6.6 billion (this will likely be lower as some drugs in the aforementioned areas will remain with Merck). That represents 15% of the $43 billion that the company reported in pharmaceutical sales last year; Keytruda on its own generated $14.4 billion.
The company will lose some diversification but it will be leaner with stronger margins. Merck projects that over three years, the spinoff will lead to operating efficiencies of $1.5 billion (pre-tax). As a result, its margins will be higher than if the companies were to remain together. And with fewer drugs to focus on, that can help Merck concentrate its efforts on its other products and drive more growth in areas such as oncology, diabetes, and vaccines.
For investors, it's an important reminder that Merck's business remains strong and while the pandemic is weighing down some parts of its business, others are still doing well. And once everything is firing on all cylinders, this healthcare stock could become a hot buy. With a dividend yield of 3.5%, investors are getting a better payout than the average stock on the S&P 500, which pays around 1.5%. And its per-share profit in Q1 of $1.25 still puts the company in great shape to continue making its quarterly distributions of $0.65.
2. Kimberly Clark
Kimberly Clark had a worse quarter than Merck. Its first-quarter net sales (released April 23 and covering the same period) were down 5% year over year to $4.7 billion. The company blamed the unimpressive results on supply chain disruptions and a tough comparable quarter a year ago, when consumers were stockpiling in the early stages of the pandemic. Despite the challenges ahead and a potential softening of demand as the economy recovers from the pandemic, management still projects organic sales growth to be positive, up to 1% in 2021.
But if you're buying shares of Kimberly Clark, you likely aren't doing it because of incredible growth opportunities. There is only so much toilet paper that a family can buy. The appeal is that those types of products are essentials, and so although demand may not necessarily be rising, it will for the most part remain stable. And that makes it an attractive dividend stock.
The company's diluted earnings per share (EPS) in Q1 were $1.72. This is well above the company's current quarterly payout of $1.14, which it recently increased for the 49th year in a row -- it is now one rate hike away from becoming a Dividend King.
With a yield of 3.19%, it will provide you with a similar payout to what you would get with Merck. Kimberly Clark's stock has started to rally after falling near its 52-week low of $128.02 after posting its results, but it's still a good buy on the dip.
Citrix doesn't pay a terribly high payout, but at 1.19%, it can still be a good source of recurring income. The tech company also released its latest results for the first quarter of 2021 last week. Sales of $775.8 million for the period ending March 31 were down 10% from a year ago, and per-share profits of $0.71 were cut in half -- but that is still nearly double the $0.37 that the company pays each quarter in dividends.
At first glance, the numbers may seem concerning, but the challenge for Citrix is that the company has been transitioning customers from on-premises licenses toward a cloud-based model. That means some short-term pain in exchange for more sustainable long-term revenue from subscriptions. In Q1, subscription revenue rose 28% from a year ago and now accounts for 44% of sales (versus 31% previously).
The company offers digital workspaces which can better meet the needs of pandemic-affected businesses that need more versatile solutions to accommodate employees who are working remotely. In March, Citrix also acquired Wrike, which provides collaborative work management solutions to further ramp up and diversify its offerings.
But despite the potential the company has over the long term, after the Q1 results, the stock slid to less than $124 -- the last time it closed there was in November 2020. Although it may take some time for the company to produce some strong growth numbers, Citrix looks like it is on the right track and could be an underrated buy today.