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2 Blue Chips I'd Love to Buy in a Bear Market

By Anirudh Shankar – May 21, 2021 at 6:10AM

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These pharmaceutical sector stocks can be relied on even in troubled times on Wall Street.

With volatility increasing in the stock market over the last few weeks, many investors are concerned that Wall Street might be heading for a correction or crash. And if a major bear market is about to ensue, this could be a good moment to add some resilient and recession-proof stocks to your portfolio for security and peace of mind.

Two that really fit that mold are Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.71%) and Pfizer (PFE -0.91%). Both businesses have been bringing in record profits and increasing their dividends, and investors can expect their stocks to be wealth-generators over the long run.

Working in lab

Image source: Getty Images.


The case for Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson is the world's largest pharmaceutical company by market cap, weighing in at just under $450 billion. It's also a stock that investors run to for safety during times of instability. One reason for that is its status as a Dividend King -- a title it's earned by increasing its payout annually for over 50 years. Indeed, the company's dividend-hiking streak has reached 58 straight years, and there are no signs that it's going to end.

When Johnson & Johnson reported first-quarter earnings on April 20, it outperformed analysts' expectations, posting $2.59 in adjusted EPS and revenues of $22.32 billion, versus consensus estimates of only $2.34 in adjusted EPS and $21.98 billion in revenue. Even with the U.S. economy still in a less-than-optimal condition, the company grew sales in Q1 by 7.9% year over year.

Additionally, all of the company's core business lines expanded their earnings. Its Janssen pharmaceutical business, which developed the company's COVID-19 vaccine, grew sales by 9.6% year over year to $12.19 billion. Its medical devices business generated sales of $6.57 billion, up 7.9%.

That earnings growth was robust enough that management raised its financial guidance for 2021. It now forecasts profits of $9.42 a share, up from $9.40, and revenues of $90.6 billion, up from $90.5 billion.

Johnson & Johnson has once again shown that even during troubled times in the global economy, it was still able to increase its revenues. With its worldwide presence, massive scope, and steady operations, this is a company I think any investor would appreciate having in their portfolio.

The case for Pfizer

Pfizer stock has jumped by over 15% in the last three months. Those gains were partly driven by the immense success of the COVID-19 vaccine it developed in partnership with BioNTech SE. In just the first quarter, Pfizer has brought in $3.46 billion in revenue from the vaccine. Pfizer is expecting approximately $26 billion in revenue from the jab in 2021 alone, and hopes to expand its vaccine production capacity from 2.5 billion doses this year to about 3 billion in 2022.

For that quarter, the 150-year-old pharmaceutical company grew its revenue by 42% year over year. Even without including the impact of the coronavirus vaccine, sales still jumped 8% year over year, led by Eliquis (an anticoagulant) with $1.6 billion in sales and Xeljanz (for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis) with $538 million. These drugs saw their sales for quarter jump 25% and 18% year over year, respectively.

Pfizer also raised its quarterly dividend by 3% to $0.39. During a period when many companies have had to cut or suspend their payments to shareholders, Pfizer rewarded shareholders with a payout increase. Before 2010, when it last cut its payout, Pfizer was a Dividend Aristocrat, having increased its payout annually for more than 25 years. In the years since then, it has returned to its payout-growing ways with annual hikes, so over time, it could very well reach Dividend Aristocrat status once again. At current share prices, Pfizer's dividend yields about 3.9% -- almost triple the 1.34% yield now being paid by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF

This healthcare giant's growing business and its attractive dividend are enough to keep me wanting Pfizer in my portfolio, especially when a market downturn might be looming. 

Anirudh Shankar owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$43.76 (-0.91%) $0.40
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$163.36 (-0.71%) $-1.17
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
BNTX
$134.88 (0.96%) $1.28

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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