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3 Dividend Stocks That Are No-Brainer Buys Right Now

Motley Fool - Sat Feb 24, 6:04AM CST

There are well over 5,000 stocks on the market that pay dividends. It would take you years to analyze each one of them in detail. Fortunately, you don't have to exert such an effort.

Three contributors have identified dividend stocks that they think are no-brainers to buy right now. Here's why they picked AbbVie(NYSE: ABBV), Eli Lilly(NYSE: LLY), and Gilead Sciences(NASDAQ: GILD).

A new stage for this big drugmaker

Keith Speights (AbbVie): AbbVie's top-selling drug Humira has lost its U.S. patent exclusivity. Longtime CEO Rick Gonzalez is passing the baton to Rob Michael, who currently serves as the company's president and COO. In more ways than one, it's a new stage for the big drugmaker. But I think it will be a good one.

Despite sinking sales for Humira, AbbVie remains optimistic about the future. The company is on track to return to solid growth in 2025. It projects a revenue compound annual growth rate in the high-single-digit percentages through the rest of the decade. By 2027, AbbVie expects Humira's two successors, Rinvoq and Skyrizi, to generate combined sales of more than $27 billion -- well above what Humira raked in at its peak.

Those two autoimmune disease drugs aren't the only growth drivers for AbbVie. Antipsychotic drug Vraylar is headed toward achieving peak annual sales of close to $5 billion. Migraine therapies Ubrelvy and Qulipta should together reach peak sales of over $3 billion per year. AbbVie expects to receive U.S. regulatory approval this year for ABBV-951 in treating Parkinson's disease and thinks it has blockbuster potential.

Acquisitions could boost AbbVie's growth even more. The big drugmaker is in the process of acquiring Cerevel Therapeutics for around $8.4 billion and recently completed its buyout of Immunogen for $10.1 billion.

At least one thing should remain the same in AbbVie's new phase: The company is well positioned to retain its status as a Dividend King with ongoing dividend increases. Income investors should like AbbVie's solid dividend yield of over 3.5%.

A terrific dividend growth stock

Prosper Junior Bakiny (Eli Lilly): Biotech giant Eli Lilly has been grabbing headlines over the past year, but not because of its dividend. Instead, the drugmaker has become a bit of a market darling -- shares have more than doubled over the past year, an incredible performance for a company of this size.

Eli Lilly is a leader in the market for anti-obesity drugs thanks to Zepbound, a medicine destined for stardom. Weight-loss medications are rising in popularity. The trend will keep its momentum at least through the end of the decade. Eli Lilly should benefit like no other company, which explains why investors are bidding up its shares.

But the biotech has many other key products and an exciting pipeline that should yield other important approvals as early as this year. Case in point: Eli Lilly could launch Alzheimer's disease medicine donanemab soon, pending approval.

In short, the company's underlying business is rock solid. Whether one cares about growth or dividends, that is still the most important thing to look at.

How has Eli Lilly's dividend record been in recent years? The company's payouts are up by 101.6% in the past five years. Eli Lilly's cash payout remains reasonable at 58.23%. Although its dividend yield of 0.70% doesn't seem too attractive, it's that low because of how much the biotech has crushed the market in recent years.

Besides, even with a low yield, Eli Lilly's robust operations are proof enough that it has the means to reward investors with growing dividends for years to come. Eli Lilly's shares are a no-brainer for many reasons other than the dividend -- but that aspect of owning the stock certainly sweetens the deal.

A cheap stock with a great yield

David Jagielski(Gilead Sciences): Gilead Sciences stands out as a top healthcare stock with a high yield that looks like a no-brainer buy right now. Yielding 4.3%, investors are getting a fairly high payout from a stock that also makes for a safe investment.

The company's core revenue comes from HIV products, but Gilead has also been diversifying. Last year, its HIV sales totaled $18.2 billion, and they rose by 6% year over year.

Gilead has also been growing its oncology business, with revenue from that segment rising by 37% to $2.9 billion. Products aimed at liver disease contributed another $2.8 billion in revenue, giving the business even more diversification. Gilead is in the process of acquiring CymaBay Therapeutics for $4.3 billion, in a move that will further bolster its portfolio of products aimed at treating liver disease.

With strong free cash flow of more than $7.4 billion in 2023, Gilead is in an excellent position to pursue growth opportunities while also paying a dividend. Last year, it paid out $3.8 billion in dividends, leaving plenty of free cash left over to reinvest back into its operations.

Gilead's efforts at diversifying its business and expanding its operations make this a safer investment to hang on to for the long haul. The company announced a 2.7% boost to its dividend this month, and it has been raising its payouts since 2016. Trading at just 10 times its expected future profits, Gilead is an incredibly cheap stock to buy right now, making it a no-brainer buy for long-term investors.

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David Jagielski has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has positions in AbbVie. Prosper Junior Bakiny has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Paid Post: Content produced by Motley Fool. The Globe and Mail was not involved, and material was not reviewed prior to publication.

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