No matter how you slice it, the stock market is experiencing serious volatility. How long this turmoil will last and whether it signals an imminent market crash or correction is anyone's guess. The good news is that long-term investors don't (and shouldn't) base their stock-buying decisions on the market's movements over a period of days, weeks, or even months.
High-caliber stocks can help your portfolio survive any market storm, and short-term fluctuations don't undermine the long-term value of a solid company. In fact, investors should look at periods of market volatility as a prime opportunity to snap up premium stocks at a bargain price that can generate steady returns and cushion portfolio weakness.
If you're in a strong financial position savings-wise and have extra cash on hand to pump into your portfolio, here are two top blue-chip stocks to buy right now.
1. Johnson & Johnson
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.48%) is one of the top healthcare stocks, full stop. It boasts a robust triad of business divisions that drive growth: pharmaceuticals, consumer health, and medical devices.
The pharmaceutical division encapsulates an array of medicines, including Tremfya, a treatment for certain kinds of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, and blockbuster drug Stelara, which treats a range of conditions including certain kinds of ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. Its consumer health segment includes familiar brands Listerine and Tylenol, while its medical device business sells products ranging from surgical instruments to sports medicine devices.
Johnson & Johnson recorded total sales of $82.6 billion in 2020, up about 1% from the prior year. The company's solid financial performance despite pandemic headwinds was led by single-digit sales growth in its pharmaceutical and consumer health segments during the 12-month period, despite a slight decline in medical device sales due to delayed surgical procedures last year.
In the first quarter of 2021, the company reported overall sales growth of 8%, driven by 7% growth in its pharmaceutical segment and a 9% increase in sales of its medical devices.
And while Johnson & Johnson has pledged not to profit from its one-dose COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic, it could start to mark up the price of doses soon and potentially add millions of dollars to its balance sheet in the years to come. The good news is, Johnson & Johnson's robust portfolio of existing products and impressive late-stage pipeline mean the company isn't relying on its COVID-19 vaccine to drive sales growth.
If you like dividends (who doesn't?), the company hits the mark. It pays a dividend that yields about 2.5% at present, and the company has raised its payout every year for nearly 60 years. With its reliable track record of balance sheet and dividend growth in all market environments, Johnson & Johnson is a strong value play to prepare your portfolio for whatever the future may bring.
Tech giant Microsoft (MSFT 0.53%) is another classic pick. Its perpetual resilience in challenging market conditions goes back to the strength of its underlying business, its diverse sources of revenue, and continued high demand for its products.
In the first, second, and third quarters of the company's fiscal 2021 (ended Sep. 30, Dec. 31, and March 31), Microsoft reported double-digit revenue growth of 12%, 17%, and 19%, respectively. It also consistently delivered double-digit revenue increases in all of its core business segments during these quarters, except for the first quarter, when its more personal computing segment revenue grew by the mid-single digits.
Microsoft expanded its bottom line during the first three quarters of its fiscal 2021 at an even more impressive rate than its top line. The company's net income spiked 30% year over year in the first quarter, followed by a 33% increase in the second quarter and a 44% jump in the third quarter.
Microsoft's third quarter was a particularly strong period of growth for the company. Revenue generated by its productivity and business process segment rose 15% from the year-ago period, while its intelligent cloud and more personal computing segments clocked revenue increases of 23% and 19%, respectively.
Microsoft's cloud-based revenue is accounting for more and more of the company's overall balance sheet growth. CFO Amy Hood said that in the third quarter, "The Microsoft Cloud, with its end-to-end solutions, continues to provide compelling value to our customers generating $17.7 billion in commercial cloud revenue, up 33% year over year."
It's also worth noting that Microsoft's cloud computing service Azure has given the company a dominant market share in the global cloud services industry, second only to Amazon's cloud computing behemoth Amazon Web Services. Microsoft Azure generated 50% revenue growth in the third quarter alone.
Shares of Microsoft have marked consistent gains over the past year and are trading 32% higher than one year ago. Analysts think that the tech stock has a potential upside as high as 40%, which would translate to strong returns for shareholders.
Microsoft can provide that formidable mixture of value and growth to any investor's portfolio, and its dividend yields about 1%, all of which makes the stock a compelling egg to add to your basket.