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A vial and sryinge are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer and Biontech logo in this illustration taken Jan. 11.Dado Ruvic/Reuters

There’s a lot of uncertainty ahead in 2022. But there are also opportunities for informed investors – stocks with the potential to outperform the broad market, whatever it does.

Here are two to consider. The first is for conservative investors, the second for those who are prepared to accept more risk for a high potential return.

Pfizer Inc.

Everyone knows about Pfizer these days. It was the first company (along with partner BioNTech) to have a COVID vaccine approved for general use. Their vaccine has proven to be highly effective with minimal side effects and now Pfizer has developed an anti-viral oral drug to combat the coronavirus that recently received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The share price is finally starting to reflect the fact this is not just another staid old Big Pharma company. After bumping along below US$40 for most of the past five years, the price began moving up sharply in November and recently touched an all-time high of US$61.71. But it’s still trading at a reasonable price-to-earnings ratio of 16.9.

On Dec. 22, Pfizer announced it had received authorization from the FDA for the emergency use of its antiviral pill, Paxlovid, for COVID patients with mild to moderate symptoms. The decision was based on test results that showed an 89-per-cent reduction in the risk of COVID-19-related hospitalization or death from any cause in adults treated with the medication within three days of symptoms appearing. No deaths occurred in the treatment group compared with nine deaths in the placebo group by Day 28.

Pfizer is increasing its quarterly cash dividend by 2.6 per cent to 40 US cents, effective March 4. This will be the 333rd consecutive quarterly dividend paid by the company. However, because of the rise in the share price, the yield is down to 2.9 per cent, even with the latest increase.

Pfizer is the hottest name in pharmaceuticals right now. Demand for its vaccines will continue to grow at least through 2022 and perhaps beyond as it’s becoming increasingly apparent that annual COVID boosters will be needed, just as with the flu shot. Paxlovid will probably be the first of a new line of antiviral medications.

While we’ve seen a significant price increase recently, I think there’s another 30 per cent to 40 per cent upside potential over the next year, with limited downside risk. Pfizer is my conservative pick for 2022.

We first recommended Pfizer on April 13, 2020, at US$35.38. It closed Tuesday at US$54.53.

Sabre Corp.

The best formula for finding potential outperformers is to look for quality companies that have been badly beaten down by events beyond their control. Sabre qualifies, big time.

Sabre was introduced in my Internet Wealth Builder newsletter in December, 2020. It is a software for services firm that powers the back end of many travel-related companies. These include airlines, airports, car rental companies, cruise lines, hotels, search engines and online travel agencies. Sabre’s software is indispensable to its clients. It’s a huge market, with the industry generating more than US$8-trillion annually when things are normal – which, of course, they have not been for two years.

Located in Texas, the company has two main business groups. The hospitality group provides technology for more than 40,000 hotels and resorts in 160 countries. The platform allows these clients to optimize revenue and improve the guest experience. All this is invisible to the public but essential to making sure the travel experience runs smoothly. So, when you phone or go online to book a hotel room you are likely using the Sabre central reservation system. Beyond the reservation platform, the company provides software that manages inventory, guest profiles, staffing and payment systems.

The second area is centred around the airlines and travel agencies. Sabre provides the technology for mobile devices and other platforms people use in their daily lives. This provides clients with data-rich services that are essential to remain relevant in a competitive marketplace such as travel. If you use companies such as Bookings.com and Expedia, know they’re both built on the Sabre platform.

Prior to the pandemic, the company’s stock was trading north of US$27 but it got crushed when travel suddenly ground to a stop, trading as low as US$8 in March, 2020. It then rallied when it appeared the vaccines had the coronavirus in retreat, only to be flattened again with the onset of Omicron.

At some point, let’s hope in 2022, the coronavirus will probably fade away, as happened with the Spanish flu a century ago. Tourism will return, airports will be jammed, cruise ships will be full and Sabre’s stock will soar once again.

I think you’re looking at an upside of 100 per cent plus here, but it will take time, patience and a strong stomach. This one is for aggressive investors only.

Sabre was first recommended at US$10.97. It closed Tuesday at US$9.31.

Gordon Pape is editor and publisher of the Internet Wealth Builder and Income Investor newsletters.

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