In this article, I look at 7 of the best companies in the healthcare space for income investors. Please use my research as a starting point for your own due diligence.
Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE:PFE) - With a dividend yield of 4.0%, PFE offers an attractive income element. As treasuries continue to offer low yields, finding juggernaut stocks like PFE that provide upside potential and income is increasingly rare. On a price-to-earnings basis, the company appears to be a good value relative to major competitors Merck & Co. (NYSE:MRK) and Bayer AG (OTCPK:BAYRY). Pfizer is trading at a current price-to-earnings multiple of 15.2, relative to 28 for MRK and 22.8 for BAYRY.PK. The company is also the strongest in terms of operating efficiency, with an operating margin of 27.8%, relative to 22.8% for MRK and 13.5% for BAYRY.PK. When one is able to find this kind of yield from a solid blue chip name like PFE, inclusion in one's portfolio is advisable as a long-term addition.
Landauer, Inc. (NYSE:LDR) - With a dividend yield of 4.2%, LDR offers an attractive income element. This is a relatively small stock on a market capitalization basis, at under $500 million; it is a niche play in the scientific instrument space that offers a great financial profile. The company is in line with industry averages on growth, reporting year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 5% relative to an industry average of 6%. The stock appears a bit expensive in terms of price-to-earnings valuation, trading at a multiple of 20.5 relative to an average of 15.6. Where the company does excel, and why buying it to capture the significant yield makes sense, is in its operating efficiency. Where the industry average operating margin is 8.1%, LDR has an operating margin of 30.2%. With this level of cushion in its business operations, an investor can feel comfortable chasing yield in the name.
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) - With a dividend yield of 3.5%, ABT offers an attractive income element. Commonly compared to Baxter International (NYSE:BAX), the company offers similar financials with better dividend yield. Where ABT has year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 13.2% and a price-to-earnings over growth [PEG] ratio of 1.29, BAX has year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 7.9% and a PEG ratio of 1.31. While both are solid companies with established management, the additional yield available from ABT tilts inclusion in its favor, though it may make sense to look for a better entry point.
Meridian Bioscience, Inc. (NASDAQ:VIVO) - With a dividend yield of 4.0%, PDLI offers an attractive income element. The company is set to release earnings of January 26, 2012 and is expected to report very solid profitability. While the news is likely priced into the stock, it may serve as a catalyst to drive the price higher. Relative to competitor Becton, Dickinson & Co. (NYSE:BDX), the company has favorable metrics. With year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 16.3%, relative to 9.5% for BDX, the company includes solid growth potential to the income element. Additionally, with an operating margin of 26.6% relative to 22.6% for BDX, investors can remain confident that the company is running efficiently. Overall, the investment profile of VIVO is very attractive, and it should be added to a comprehensive healthcare portfolio.
Sanofi ADR (NYSE:SNY) - With a dividend yield of 3.7%, SNY offers an attractive income element. In addition to the income element, this stock offers very attractive financials relative to its peers - Glaxo SmithKline (NYSE:GSK) and Merck & Co. On a price-to-earnings valuation basis, the stock trades at a multiple of 15.7, relative to 44.4 for GSK and 28 for MRK. This metric measures how much an investor much pay for every dollar of earnings, so a lower reader is more attractive. In terms of recent growth, SNY has year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 11.1%, relative to 4.3% for GSK and 8.1% for MRK. Overall, the metrics of this stock make it an attractive addition to one's portfolio.
Johnson & Johnson Corp. (NYSE:JNJ) - With a dividend yield of 3.5%, JNJ offers an attractive income element. While this stock is most commonly compared to other major drug manufacturers, it is the company's device business, specifically in stents, that makes it an interesting play. The diversified nature of its business makes comparing financial metrics with competitors Medtronic (NYSE:MDT) and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX) somewhat superfluous, but with solid income and the potential for explosive growth in the device segment, it should be included in most portfolios. As a frame of reference, the stock trades at a price-to-earnings multiple of 15.9, relative to 12.2 for MDT and 14.6 for BSX. JNJ has an operating margin of 25.4%, relative to 29.4% for BSX and 14% for BSX. Overall, the stock is a solid buy and the income element makes it even more attractive and a good addition to a dividend seeking portfolio.
Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS) - With a dividend yield of 3.6%, NVS offers an attractive income element. With solid metrics across the board, this is the growth play amongst the major drug manufacturers. The company has year-over-year quarterly revenue growth of 17.3%, relative to 8.1% for MRK and 7.5% for PFE. Despite this strong showing, the company is still run efficiently; NVS has an operating margin of 22.8%, relative to 25.9% for MRK and 27.8% for PFE. The industry average is 11.8%, so despite the fact that it trails some of its peers, the company is still running strong. The inclusion of NVS is one's portfolio is well justified on both an income and a growth basis.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.