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3 Stocks That Could Make You Richer in December (and Beyond)

By Jason Hawthorne, Rachel Warren, and Steve Ditto – Dec 2, 2021 at 11:19AM

Key Points

  • A big beneficiary of the novel coronavirus is back to its pre-pandemic valuation.
  • This biotech giant is a stock that investors can buy and hold forever.
  • It's a good time to reexamine your assumptions about pandemic stocks.

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Shares of these companies are gift-wrapped for those with patience.

The stock market is not in the holiday spirit lately. Shares of some companies have been spiraling lower thanks to a new coronavirus mutation and the prospect of less help from the Federal Reserve. But those lower prices could be a gift to investors with a long-term outlook. 

That's why we asked three contributors to which stocks they think have a bow on them at the current price. They chose Teladoc Health (TDOC 3.17%), Abbvie (ABBV -0.16%) and Fulgent Genetics (FLGT -0.30%) as too good to pass up. Here's why.

Two people wearing Santa hats, wreaths, and and masks.

Image source: Getty Images.

A return to normal in more ways than one

Jason Hawthorne (Teladoc Health): Shareholders in this virtual healthcare company have likely experienced a range of emotions over the past two years. They've seen it more than triple from the beginning of 2020 only to then lose 68% of its value from the peak earlier this year.

The company's market cap has fallen to $16 billion. That's less than it paid to acquire chronic disease manager Livongo Health in the fall of 2020. But fears over stagnating membership growth might be short-sighted. Management has continually emphasized how much business was pulled forward during the pandemic. It has also taken every opportunity to signal a strong pipeline of growth selling to health plans. That should help the membership numbers reaccelerate next year. After all, those deals -- and members -- are typically beginning coverage at the start of each year. The company has signaled weakness in broker sales and international deals. But those channels don't offer the same large blocks of prospective members as health plans anyway.

Meanwhile, the ability to package multiple services like Livongo's chronic care management and the company's own virtual primary care offering have led to record rate of utilization. That's the number of visits per member during a period. For the latest quarter ending in September, it was 23.7%. Comparing that to the 16.5% in the same quarter last year and the 8% for the third quarter of 2019 shows a clear trend. That trend has translated directly into price. From the time the company went public in 2015 to the most recent quarter the price per member per month has climbed nearly sixfold -- from $0.45 to $2.57.

Despite the improving operational metrics, this year's drop in the stock price has pushed the price-to-sales (P/S) ratio back to where it stood before the coronavirus shuttered many doctors' offices to non-COVID-19 patients. In short, shares of Teladoc are priced as they were in a world without the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

TDOC PS Ratio Chart

TDOC PS Ratio data by YCharts

It's hard to forget the heights the stock reached in between, but Teladoc is a stronger business that is more integrated into the healthcare system than it has ever been. That's clear from the rate at which members utilize its virtual offerings. It's tempting to look at a stock chart like Teladoc's and run away. But for those who are monitoring the metrics that matter, the company looks poised to produce market-beating returns as the world returns to normal.

A top dividend stock to buy right now 

Rachel Warren (AbbVie): If you're looking for a stock that can generate healthy returns for your portfolio over the next several years and beyond, I'd like to suggest AbbVie for your consideration.

Now let's be clear -- this stock isn't going to generate life-changing returns overnight. That being said, over the last decade, AbbVie has generated a total return of 383%, compared to the S&P 500's total return of 378% during the same period.

As a long-term investor, one of the reasons I am a shareholder in AbbVie is for its dividend. The company is a member of the Dividend Aristocrat club, and currently boasts a yield of about 4.9%. That is considerably higher than the S&P 500's average of about 1.3%.  

Besides its incredible dividend history and yield, AbbVie is also an established pharmaceutical company with a broad portfolio of highly lucrative products that consistently expand the company's top and bottom lines. In fact, AbbVie has the distinction of being the company with the world's top-selling drug: Humira.

Now, you might be aware that Humira's patent exclusivity in the U.S. expires in the next few years. However, drugs like Imbruvica and Skyrizi (which brought in respective revenues of $4 billion and $2 billion in the first nine months of 2021 alone), not to mention AbbVie's portfolio of aesthetics, neuroscience, eye care, and women's health products (which accumulated combined revenue of more than $11 billion in the first nine months of 2021), can continue to drive strong earnings even as Humira is faced with more biosimilar competition.  

In short: AbbVie looks poised for continued growth in the years ahead. It's definitely not too late for patient, long-term investors to scoop up this blue chip stock and reap the rewards.

Some good may come from omicron

Steve Ditto (Fulgent Genetics): As we enter the fifth wave of COVID-19, it might be a good time to reexamine your assumptions about whether we are, or will ever be, in a post-COVID-19 world and what that means for so-called pandemic stocks.

Investors, longing for a return to normalcy, pushed down the prices of many high-flying stocks. Moderna's stock price fell by 40% from its summer highs after its vaccine and booster seemed to put COVID-19 in the rearview mirror. Investors holding that rosy view were jolted back to a harsh reality this week on news of the latest variant. With every new wave it seems increasingly clear companies providing pandemic-related products and services will see long-term demand as long as COVID-19 remains part of daily life.

Similarly, Fulgent Genetics was a key provider of COVID-19 testing and saw its stock hit an all time high of $189.89 in February before falling more than 50% as COVID-19 testing volumes declined and investors moved on to other "reopening" stocks. Fulgent's price rebounded by 15% in November based largely on continued delta variant testing and longer-term prospects for continued surveillance and testing of new variants.

Through it all, COVID-19 testing has been a cash machine for Fulgent which is likely to result in $1 billion on the balance sheet by year-end. Fulgent has been using the cash to diversify and expand its small but fast-growing genetic testing business from a focus on pediatric testing, to now include cancer testing and molecular diagnostics in both the U.S. and China. Management expects genetic testing to generate revenue of $115 million in 2021, for a year-over-year increase of 215%. Fulgent is expected to deliver this revenue with gross margin above 80% and operating margin above 60%. 

Fulgent completed several second-quarter acquisitions and mentioned on the third-quarter earnings call there could be more mergers and acquisitions announced in the fourth quarter. This aggressive expansion of its genetic testing business should be welcome news for Fulgent investors since the genetic testing market is large and growing. Cathie Wood of ARK Investment Management projects multi-cancer screening could become a $150 billion market. In addition, China is projected to be another $45 billion market opportunity. 

At $84 per share, Fulgent has a $2.5 billion market cap. However, $1 billion of that market cap should be cash and marketable securities by the end of the year. Setting the cash aside, and assuming the company reaches $200 million in its core genetic testing business in 2022, Fulgent will be valued at less than 10 times sales based on that revenue alone. If COVID-19 related sales continue at the current level, the valuation would be less than three times sales.

The omicron variant could put a damper on December for people around the world. For patient buy-and-hold investors, Fulgent may be able to translate COVID-19 testing revenue into a profitable, sustainable genetic testing business that could grow your portfolio in December and beyond.

Jason Hawthorne owns shares of Fulgent Genetics, Inc. and Teladoc Health. Rachel Warren owns shares of AbbVie and Teladoc Health. Steve Ditto has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Fulgent Genetics, Inc. and Teladoc Health. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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