The global economic and geopolitical environment is far from certain right now, with elevated inflation throughout the world and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. And if there's anything that the market craves, it is certainty. This goes some way to explaining why the S&P 500 index is down about 18% so far in 2022.
While the overall market is down significantly, stocks that are viewed as safe income options have fared much better. Share prices of the pharmaceutical Dividend King AbbVie (ABBV 0.40%) are actually 16% higher in 2022.
Hot off the 5% hike in its quarterly dividend per share to $1.48, this raises the following question: Is AbbVie still a buy for dividend growth investors after its sizable rally? Let's dig into the company's fundamentals and valuation and see if we can answer the question.
A potent drug portfolio fueled revenue and earnings growth
Since its spin-off from Abbott Laboratories in 2013, AbbVie has established itself as a dominant player in the pharmaceutical industry. For context, the Chicago, Illinois-based business is the fourth-biggest pharmaceutical company in the world.
This was largely the result of the success of its mega-blockbuster (defined as at least $5 billion in annual sales) immunology drug known as Humira. The drug's net revenue was $9.3 billion in 2012. But due to higher market share and expanded indications, Humira is on pace to surpass $21 billion in net revenue in 2022.
But as important as the top-selling pre-COVID-19 product in the world has been to AbbVie, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the company's revenue is well-balanced. In fact, AbbVie's drug portfolio consists of 11 other franchises that are on track to top $1 billion in net revenue this year. These include the next-generation immunology drugs Skyrizi and Rinvoq, which generated combined net revenue of $2.1 billion for the third quarter -- a 67.5% year-over-year growth rate.
In addition to double-digit growth in net revenue from the antipsychotic drug Vraylar and the aesthetics drug franchise Botox Cosmetic, this is how AbbVie reported $14.8 billion in net revenue during the quarter. This was good enough for a 3.3% net revenue growth rate over the year-ago period.
The drugmaker recorded $3.66 in non-GAAP (adjusted) diluted earnings per share (EPS) in the third quarter, which equates to a blistering 29.3% year-over-year growth rate. As a result of improved operating efficiency, AbbVie's non-GAAP net margin surged 880 basis points higher over the year-ago period to 44.1% for the quarter. Along with a 0.1% reduction in the company's weighted-average diluted share count to 1.8 billion, that's why the company's adjusted diluted EPS growth far exceeded its net revenue growth during the quarter.
And with dozens of indications currently in clinical development, AbbVie is positioned to quickly bounce back from Humira's U.S. patent expiration that is just over one month away.
The safest dividend is the one just raised
AbbVie's 3.7% dividend yield is over double that of the S&P 500 index's 1.7% average yield. The company's tremendous drug portfolio inspires confidence that this generous dividend isn't a yield trap.
Another factor that AbbVie has working in its favor is that the dividend payout ratio will come in just above 40% in 2022. This gives the company adequate resources to expand its business, reduce debt, and execute share repurchases.
With these factors in mind, it's not surprising that AbbVie upped its payout last month. And it wouldn't be a shock if the dividend grew for many years to come.
A top-notch pharma stock at a sensible valuation
AbbVie is a superb company that arguably is capable of overcoming its looming Humira patent expiration. And the stock is priced at a compelling valuation.
AbbVie's forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 13.7 is just below the S&P 500 pharmaceutical industry average forward P/E ratio of 14.4. That's why this world-class stock is an attractive pick for this month and beyond.