Over the past six months, the market has fallen sharply thanks to a toxic combination of fears about a looming recession, rising inflation, and rising interest rates. Growth stocks and unprofitable companies have been especially hard hit.
Nonetheless, there are a small handful of businesses that have flourished despite the increasingly pessimistic environment. Let's take a look at three of these unstoppable stocks that have (so far) weathered the market's turbulence with ease.
Sanofi (SNY -0.48%) is a multinational pharma giant with a market cap in excess of $135 billion, and its shares are up by over 17% from six months ago. To trounce the market's return, Sanofi did the same set of activities that it does all of the time: develop and commercialize medicines. In the first quarter alone, it clocked three regulatory approvals for a trio of different drugs, and it submitted regulatory filings for five other projects too.
Each new medicine or new indication of an already-approved medicine means more recurring revenue for years to come, and that remains true no matter what's going on in the global economy. Right now, its multifunctional immunology drug, Dupixent, is leading the charge; it had the largest share of new prescriptions for type-2 inflammatory diseases issued by dermatologists, allergists, and pulmonologists in the first quarter.
Importantly, Sanofi's financial performance is also quite strong, which certainly helps protect it from a market downturn. Its trailing 12-month net income has grown by some 87% in the past three years, which is a decent pace, especially given that revenue grew just under 12% in the same period. Revenue totaled $46.8 billion over the trailing 12 months.
Sanofi is also increasing its research and development (R&D) spending each year to keep up with its competitors and ensure that its pipeline remains jam-packed with opportunities for future revenue.
Much like Sanofi, AstraZeneca (AZN 1.21%) is a biopharma juggernaut, except that it's even bigger with a market cap of more than $206 billion. AstraZeneca's secret to outperforming the market in recent months is sizzling sales. Its first quarter total revenue skyrocketed by 60%, hitting $11.4 billion.
Aside from that, the drug giant also notched four new regulatory approvals and submitted three for review, which means its sales are likely to be even higher throughout the rest of the year and into next year.
AstraZeneca's late-stage pipeline is one of the strongest in the industry with 16 wholly new drug candidates in phase 3 clinical trials and more than 120 programs in late-stage development. To advance all those programs, the company spent more than $10.2 billion on R&D over the past 12 months. Moreover, its trailing 12-month R&D expenditures have risen by around 78% in the past five years. That should help ensure its drumbeat of new regulatory approvals continues at its current pace for the foreseeable future.
Finally, investors will be pleased to know that AstraZeneca's dividend is in good shape, having risen by 119% in the past five years. Though its forward yield of about 2.1% isn't going to make anyone rich, it's (so far) attractive enough to convince shareholders to stick around when the market is in trouble.
With its shares rising by just under 0.4% in the previous six-month period, Steris (STE 1.48%) isn't heading to the moon relative to the market, but it's still holding its ground. Steris sells sterilization solutions to biopharma businesses like Sanofi and AstraZeneca, and it also serves hospitals, biomedical laboratories, and healthcare providers with the gear they need to keep their facilities microbe free.
The key reason this company is better off than before the correction is that it benefits from the march of time in a very direct way. As the healthcare sector grows, demand for its products and services grows too since most medical procedures and most biopharmaceutical research requires extensive use of sterilization. Over the last decade, its trailing 12-month revenue and net income have expanded by 222% and around 77%, respectively. And stock prices have absolutely nothing to do with the need that Steris' customers have for its products.
Investors should keep in mind that this isn't a high-growth stock. Management estimates that total revenue growth will continue to be in the mid- to high-single-digit range for the foreseeable future. That means its relatively strong performance during downturns could be matched by relatively weak (but consistent) performance during bull markets or booms.
In a nutshell, when you're selling surgical wipes and sterilization cabinets, slow and steady is pretty much the only way to run the race, and that's just fine for investors seeking refuge.