Healthcare is one of the largest and most complex areas within the stock market. It's a multi-trillion dollar industry filled with opportunities for investors to pave their roads to financial freedom with long-term investing.
You can find quality stocks in healthcare -- companies that heal diseases, make medical devices, or simply provide the personal care products you buy at the store. Here are three blue-chip stocks you can buy in February and hold for the long term.
Surgery is one of the oldest practices in medicine, but thankfully its technology has improved over the centuries. Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -1.07%) is one of the leaders in the field today with its robotic surgery systems. The company's flagship "Da Vinci" system has an installed base of 6,730 units, and the business has grown revenue at a 12% annual rate over the past decade.
It's a good business because once a hospital purchases a Da Vinci system, it creates ongoing revenue in terms of maintenance and supplies. Not only is recurring revenue from services more reliable than a one-time equipment sale, but it carries higher margins that can make the overall business more profitable over time. System revenue was $1.7 billion in 2021, meaning that 70% of the company's total $5.7 billion was in the form of recurring products and services.
There are tens of thousands of hospitals worldwide, so Intuitive Surgical has a very long growth runway ahead -- and so do its investors.
Healthcare goes beyond the hospital. It starts in the home, and how people take care of themselves plays a critical role in their health.
Consumer staples giant Colgate-Palmolive (CL 0.36%) sells a variety of personal care and cleaning products. But it is probably best-known for its Colgate toothpaste brand, which commands a whopping 39% share of the global market. Colgate also sells 31% of the world's toothbrushes! It says a lot about brand power when a company can control so much of a simple market. A toothbrush is a piece of plastic with bristles; it's not exactly a proprietary product.
The company is kind of a slow grower, averaging less than 1% annual revenue growth over the past decade. However, it's been expanding steadily for decades and is a Dividend King -- paying and raising its dividend for the past 58 years. Its dividend currently yields nearly 2.3%. So if generating income from your investments is a goal of yours, Colgate-Palmolive can help.
Walgreens Boots Alliance
Everyone knows their corner drug store -- and for many, it might be a store owned by Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). The company operates thousands of stores under the Walgreens brand in the U.S. and the Boots brand in Europe and Asia. These are pharmacy stores where customers purchase prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs as well as food and other products.
For income-oriented investors, Walgreens Boots Alliance is also popular as a Dividend Aristocrat that's raised its dividend for 46 years. The dividend yield is 3.9% -- more than twice that of the S&P 500.
The company's trying now to go beyond being just a retailer; it's invested $5.2 billion for a majority stake in VillageMD, giving it a wedge into patient care. This is part of its plan, called Walgreens Health, to drive long-term growth by turning its store network into multi-function pharmacies for patient services like primary care and consultations.
Management is targeting $9 billion to $10 billion in revenue for Walgreens Health by 2025 -- and long-term revenue growth averaging in the high teens. If successful, it could set up Walgreens Boots Alliance to continue playing a prominent role in the healthcare system moving forward.
Whether you're looking for a high-growth stock like Intuitive Surgical, a conservative dividend stock like Colgate-Palmolive, or something in between like Walgreens Boots Alliance, there's something for everyone in the healthcare sector -- allowing you to build a diverse stock portfolio.
What's important is that the businesses are strong and have solid fundamentals that can keep them generating value for investors over the years ahead. Investors should always stay on top of their investments and keep an eye out for trouble ahead, but these three stocks should help you sleep well at night.