If you have $20,000 to invest in the stock market right now, you're likely searching for durable businesses with a strong track record of growth that can generate consistent returns in a wide variety of markets. While no investment is a guaranteed winner, stocks that have an established history of enriching investors throughout the highs and lows of the market are still abundant. 

Let's take a look at two that you may want to consider putting at least part of that $20,000 toward before year's end. 

1. Johnson & Johnson

Despite increased competition through the years, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.82%) remains a giant in each of the three key markets in which it operates: consumer health, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. The company's consumer health business, which it is about to spin off into a stand-alone company called Kenvue, sells some of the world's most well-known daily use brands like Band-Aid, Tylenol, and Listerine.

Its pharmaceutical business, which generated revenue of $52 billion in 2021 alone, covers the full spectrum of disease areas from immunology to oncology to cardiology. As for its medical device segment, Johnson & Johnson manufactures and sells everything from surgical instruments to implants for trauma surgeries.  

The company's upcoming acquisition of Abiomed, known for the world's smallest heart pump, should only fuel this fast-growing segment. The pharmaceutical and medical device businesses will remain combined under the Johnson & Johnson name following the spin-off of the company's consumer health segment in the coming months. 

Shareholders who like both businesses, which will remain on different growth trajectories but be well-positioned as leaders in their respective industries, should hold onto both stocks. Both will be publicly traded and pay dividends.

Over the trailing decade, Johnson & Johnson's revenue and profits have risen by healthy clips of 40% and 92%, respectively. Its dividend, which currently yields 2.6% for investors, has also risen by 90% in that same period. And investors who have stayed with the stock throughout that entire decade have enjoyed a sweet total return of nearly 230%.  

For investors seeking a safe healthcare stock to buy and hold for decades, Johnson & Johnson is a business that has been tried and tested by many markets while continuing to deliver solid, consistent shareholder returns. This makes it a no-brainer stock you can buy and easily hold on to forever. 

2. Vertex Pharmaceuticals

In the more than three decades since its founding, Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX 1.43%) has built a high-growth and profitable business entirely focused the cystic fibrosis (CF) treatment market. Today, its four approved products -- Trikafta, Kalydeco, Orkambi, and Symdeko -- are the only CFTR modulators on the market, a class of drugs that are revolutionizing the CF therapeutic landscape because they aim to correct the underlying cause of the genetic disease.

Over the trailing 12 months, the company has generated revenue and earnings growth of 15% and 40%, respectively. Meanwhile, the stock has delivered a total return of 43% over the trailing-12-month period, compared to the S&P 500's negative performance of 16%.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals continues to augment its pipeline of promising rare disease drug candidates while gaining new indications for its existing portfolio of profitable medicines. For example, the company recently won expanded approval for Orkambi, which is now approved to treat pediatric patients as young as 12 months. This CF drug generated revenue of $145 million in the third quarter alone.

Vertex also has a program in the works for an mRNA-based CF drug. The drug candidate is designed to help treat the more than 5,000 patients globally who are unable to benefit from traditional CFTR modulators. Vertex recently announced that its investigational drug application for the candidate was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, paving the way for expansion of this promising clinical program.

The company is also in the process of seeking approval for what would be its first non-CF drug, a gene-editing therapy called exa-cel that treats the rare blood disorders sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia. In the most recent earnings call, CEO and President Reshma Kewalramani affirmed, 

Exa-cel holds the promise for a one-time curative therapy for thousands of patients with severe sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia. This therapy, potentially the first CRISPR-based gene editing treatment to be commercialized for patients with a genetic disease also represents a near-term and significant market opportunity. 

The potential market opportunity for exa-cel is indeed massive. While Vertex is only planning its initial exa-cel launch for patients who have severe cases of these blood disorders in the U.S. and Europe, this alone represents a patient population that totals 32,000.

Now looks like an excellent time for long-term investors to capitalize on the potential of Vertex's profitable, ever-expanding portfolio of drugs while investing in a stock that continues to deliver growth in a wide variety of markets.