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Many investors appreciate the pharmaceutical industry for its potential to produce both income and long-term growth. Several of the large-cap drug makers offer above-average yields, and have records of growing their business and payouts over the long term.

Additionally, historically, many drug markers have acted resiliently during economic downturns and recessions. These companies are often considered defensive stocks. Many believe that this industry currently represents a strong long-term value, as several of these companies will continue to pay substantial dividends, benefit from emerging market growth, continue to develop new medical advancements and provide products that are so needed as to ensure continued demand even in the face of price increases due to inflation. These characteristics make many investors label this industry as recession proof (or at least recession resistant).

Below are several large-cap (over a $10 billion valuation) drug manufacturers that trade within on U.S. exchanges and that have at least a 4% current yield. I have provided their present yield, as well as their 1-month, 6-month, 1-year and 5-year share performance rates.

AstraZeneca (AZN)

  • Yield: 5.97%
  • 1-month: 0.04%
  • 6-month: -7.51%
  • 1-year: -5.30
  • 5-year: -19.19%

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)

  • Yield: 4.8%
  • 1-month: 2.29%
  • 6-month: 9.0%
  • 1-year: 13.24%
  • 5-year: -13.56%

Eli Lilly (LLY)

  • Yield: 4.8%
  • 1-month: 10.05%
  • 6-month: 8.89%
  • 1-year: 15.86%
  • 5-year: -25.66%

Merck (MRK)

  • Yield: 4.6%
  • 1-month: 3.31%
  • 6-month: 3.04%
  • 1-year: 0.72%
  • 5-year: -17.60%

Novartis (NVS)

  • Yield: 4.27%
  • 1-month: 0.76%
  • 6-month: -8.58%
  • 1-year: 1.12%
  • 5-year: -5.54%

Sanofi (SNY)

  • Yield: 5.24%
  • 1-month: 3.87%
  • 6-month: -4.92%
  • 1-year: 6.29%
  • 5-year: -24.21%

Below is a 12-month share performance comparison chart (click to enlarge):

These large-cap pharmaceutical makers have acted reasonably well during this volatile last year. Investors who selected these equities as conservative, value-driven and/or income oriented stock are broadly happy with their performance, though capricious price valuations have caused significant fluctuations within this traditionally low-beta group.

Additionally, though many of these companies appreciated considerably over the last year, about half have not recently raised their dividends, or only did so after earlier slashing them to a greater extent within the last five years. As a result, it appears likely that several of these companies may institute increases in the coming quarters. Nonetheless, this group already provides an income investor a yield above the market average or even a 30-year treasury, with far greater prospects of capital appreciation.

Source: 6 Large-Cap Pharmaceutical Companies Yielding Over 4%