In this article, we discuss 11 best COVID stocks to buy according to hedge funds. If you want to see more stocks in this selection, check out 5 Best COVID Stocks To Buy According To Hedge Funds.
In May 2022, the United States exceeded one million deaths from COVID-19. Healthcare experts believe that the virus is here to stay for the foreseeable future, and the new normal will vary for every individual. As of June 30, 2022, there have been more than 87 million reported cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and despite the large variety of vaccines, booster shots, and antibody drugs available in the market, many Americans refuse to inoculate themselves against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Although the COVID-19 virus is now less lethal than it was in 2020, it is widespread, and Europe and the United States have reached the endemic stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, as per McKinsey. The winter of 2022 and 2023 may see a more increase in reported COVID patients in the Northern Hemisphere, yet it won’t be as significant as the December 2021–February 2022 wave.
As the risk of the pandemic has not completely died down, investors might still benefit from the leading companies which made record-breaking sales during COVID-induced lockdowns.
For this article we scanned the database Insider Monkey tracking 920 elite hedge funds and picked the top 11 stocks that benefited greatly from the pandemic and are still positioned to profit from any possible pandemic situation in the future. Some of these companies are working on COVID treatments and vaccines while others see a huge demand of their products and services during lockdowns caused by COVID-19 outbreaks and other pandemics.
Best COVID Stocks To Buy According To Hedge Funds
11. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 62
Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is an American multinational company that discovers, manufactures, and sells healthcare products worldwide. It operates through four segments – Established Pharmaceutical Products, Diagnostic Products, Nutritional Products, and Medical Devices. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)’s Q1 2022 profits exceeded $2.4 billion given a rise in sales of COVID-19 diagnostic tests as the Omicron variant spread earlier this year. Revenues from diagnostic tests for COVID-19 have been a meaningful profit and sales boost to Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) since 2020 and this pattern has continued into 2022. It is one of the best COVID stocks to invest in.
On October 19, Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) reported a Q3 non-GAAP EPS of $1.15 and a revenue of $10.4 billion, outperforming Wall Street consensus by $0.21 and $750 million, respectively. Full-year 2022 guidance assumes sales from COVID-19 testing of $7.8 billion, including sales of $7.3 billion through September 2022 and forecasted sales of $0.5 billion in the fourth quarter of this year.
Mizuho analyst Anthony Petrone on October 26 initiated coverage of Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) with a Neutral rating and a $105 price target. The analyst said the Neutral rating balances the advantages of the company's "solid" positioning in multiple rapidly advancing medical technology markets and "fortress" balance sheet against COVID testing and infant formula recall/relaunch headwinds. He sees this dynamic continuing over the next numerous quarters "which will now coincide with recession uncertainties."
According to Insider Monkey’s data, 62 hedge funds were long Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) at the end of Q3 2022, compared to 61 funds in the prior quarter. Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management featured as the leading position holder in the company, with 9.12 million shares worth $883.2 million.
Like Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is one of the best COVID stocks to monitor.
“Also among our bottom contributors were health care products manufacturer Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), global pharmaceutical company Pfizer, media and technology giant Alphabet, and insurance company American International Group (AIG).
Abbott has been working through a recall of its infant formula brand Similac in the US, which has continued to pressure its share price. Although the recall will impact near-term revenues, we are not concerned about any long-term impacts. We remain optimistic about the company given it is one of the highest quality names in health care, in our view, with a talented management team that makes smart capital allocation decisions. Abbott also has leading health care and consumer franchises with a particularly strong competitive position in its medical device business. The company continues to launch innovative products in key strategic areas (such as diabetes, structural heart, and diagnostics), which should help drive not only revenue growth but margin expansion.”
10. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 63
Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) is a New York-based company that develops, publishes, and markets interactive entertainment solutions for consumers worldwide. The company offers its products under the Rockstar Games, 2K, Private Division, and T2 Mobile Games brands. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) was one of the biggest beneficiaries from the COVID-19 pandemic, as earnings surged given a gaming boom when people around the world were forced to spend more time at home. Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO)’s fiscal year 2020 revenue grew 16% to $3.089 billion, as compared to $2.668 billion in fiscal 2019.
On November 17, Truist analyst Matthew Thornton maintained a Buy rating on Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) but slashed the price target on the shares to $131 from $157. The analyst updated his model after Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO)’s softer than anticipated Q3 results, with lower earnings multiple due to its weaker execution. However, the analyst is optimistic about Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) stock in the longer-term, citing its pipeline, deal synergies, deleveraging, and buybacks.
Among the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) was part of 63 public stock portfolios at the end of Q3 2022, compared to 66 funds in the prior quarter. Andreas Halvorsen’s Viking Global is the biggest stakeholder of the company, with 2.80 million shares worth $305.6 million.
Here is what Madison Funds specifically said about Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) in its Q2 2022 investor letter:
“Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) is a leading publisher of video games. Take-Two has a reputation for the high quality of its games, having published industry favorites such as Grand Theft Auto and NBA2K.
The video game industry itself has shed much of its boom-and-bust patterns to become a steadier, more predictable business with high barriers to entry, established title franchises, and high levels of recurring, in-game revenue streams. The company has been investing heavily to step up the number of new title launches over the next few years, a favorable set-up which we believe is not fully reflected in its stock price.”
9. Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 68
Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is one of the biggest American retailers. Walmart Marketplace climbed to an estimated 70,000 sellers in 2020, driven by a rise in online shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Walmart and Amazon together earned an additional $10.7 billion in profits as compared to 2019, representing a 56% year-over-year increase. Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) is one of the best COVID stocks to monitor.
On November 15, Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) reported a Q3 non-GAAP EPS of $1.50 and a revenue of $152.8 billion, topping analysts’ estimates by $0.18 and $6 billion, respectively. Sales increased year-over-year in all Walmart divisions, and the global advertising business grew over 30%, driven by strength at Walmart Connect in the US and Flipkart Ads.
Morgan Stanley analyst Simeon Gutman on November 17 raised the price target on Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) to $164 from $150 and kept an Overweight rating on the shares, citing higher estimates following the company's Q3 "beat & raise" and rolling forward his valuation framework to FY25 estimates.
Among the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey, 68 funds were long Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) at the end of September 2022, compared to 67 funds in the earlier quarter. Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater Associates is a prominent position holder in the company, with 4 million shares worth $522.6 million.
“The pandemic has created challenges for businesses large and small; one major challenge for large essential retailers such as ClearBridge holdings Home Depot, Walmart Inc. (NYSE:WMT) and Costco has been ensuring adequate staffing to meet demand under trying conditions. All three instituted enhanced pay practices during the pandemic, with raises, unplanned bonuses and other benefits helping compensate employees for their efforts in a difficult environment. In September 2020 Walmart raised wages for 165,000 employees, including a number of entry positions to $15 an hour. It followed this in February with a raise for 425,000 workers that moved its average pay above $15 an hour.”
8. Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 69
Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) is one of the best COVID stocks to monitor. The American retailer’s revenues were $167 billion in the year to August 2020, up nearly 10% year-over-year. Online sales in 2020 rose by 50%, supported by purchases during the pandemic. Online sales more than doubled in both May and August in 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. The pandemic fueled record sales and profits, and Costco was able to cater to its 113 million members efficiently. In October 2022, Costco’s net sales increased 7.7% year-over-year to $17.73 billion.
On November 22, BofA analysts added Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) to the firm's "US 1 List," which represents a collection of the best investment ideas from the universe of Buy-rated American stocks covered by BofA’s fundamental equity research analysts.
According to Insider Monkey’s Q3 data, Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) was part of 69 hedge fund portfolios, compared to 64 funds in the prior quarter. D E Shaw held a notable stake in the company, comprising 1.10 million shares worth $521.7 million.
Here is what Cooper Investors Global Equities Fund has to say about Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) in its Q3 2022 investor letter:
“The US economy continues to run hot – the labor market is extremely tight and a number of executives we spoke to described their challenges in retaining staff and preventing competitors from poaching talent. Industrial companies in particular continue to see record backlogs, with the easing of logistics and supply chain constraints only just starting to have an impact on deliveries and lead times.
In terms of inflationary pressures, the vast majority of our holdings have been able to leverage strong market positions and stakeholder relationships to push pricing through in 2022 such that minimal impact to earnings has occurred. Clearly this is not a lever than can be pulled indefinitely but the more experienced management teams have kept some of their powder dry. Our meeting with management at Costco in Seattle was memorable for several reasons but one was their latent ability to increase member pricing which they have not done in over 5 years (and thus likely to do in 2023)…
…To conclude we’ll return to our meeting with Costco mentioned earlier. The business quality is no secret after decades of incredible execution, but the meeting gave us renewed conviction around Value Latencies in terms of the runway for growth, the focus on enhancing customer value, Costco’s vast buying power (it purchases 30% of the world’s jumbo cashews as one example) and management’s feral focus on the business model and cost discipline.”
7. Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 75
Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) is an American company that discovers, develops, and markets human pharmaceuticals worldwide. In February 2022, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)’s COVID-19 antibody drug for people aged 12 and older at risk of extreme illness. This drug has been found to work effectively against the highly contagious Omicron variant. Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) is one of the premier COVID stocks backed by hedge funds.
On November 22, Berenberg analyst Kerry Holford raised the price target on Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) to $375 from $345 and kept a Buy rating on the shares. Despite forex headwinds, Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY)’s "underlying performance remains strong," the analyst wrote in a research note. The analyst said early signs from the Mounjaro diabetes launch are positive and a label expansion to include an obesity drug is now anticipated before the conclusion of next year.
According to the third quarter database of Insider Monkey, 75 hedge funds were bullish on Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), compared to 70 funds in the prior quarter. Peter Rathjens, Bruce Clarke, and John Campbell’s Arrowstreet Capital held a prominent stake in the company, with approximately 2.5 million shares worth $802.8 million.
Here is what ClearBridge Global Growth Strategy has to say about Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY) in its Q3 2022 investor letter:
“In the U.S., we initiated a position in pharmaceutical maker Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) as it brings out new drug candidates for diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. New drugs impact diabetes but have also demonstrated significant weight loss for patients who are overweight and have other co-morbidity issues as a result. Lilly is one of the two key players in diabetes care and we believe the potential market opportunity is much higher than the consensus forecasts as we are seeing evidence of accelerating adoption.”
6. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)
Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 77
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is an American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company. It is one of the best COVID stocks to monitor. After interim results of a trial that demonstrated 89% efficacy for Pfizer’s COVID-19 pill, Louise Chen of Cantor Fitzgerald said she forecasts Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s COVID-19 vaccine sales to be $25 billion in 2027, a meaningful boost on her prior estimate of $10 billion.
On November 17, Credit Suisse analyst Trung Huynh initiated coverage of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) with an Outperform rating and a $55 price target. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has been "impacted adversely" after its COVID vaccine success, but the analyst’s Outperform rating is not based on a single asset. He sees pipeline advances supporting future growth at the company.
According to Insider Monkey’s data, 77 hedge funds were bullish on Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) at the end of September 2022, up from 70 funds in the last quarter. Ken Fisher’s Fisher Asset Management held the leading stake in the company, comprising 3.90 million shares worth $1.2 billion.
Like Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is one of the top COVID stocks on the radar of smart investors.
Diamond Hill Capital made the following comment about Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) in its Q3 2022 investor letter:
“Also among our bottom contributors were health care products manufacturer Abbott Labs, global pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), media and technology giant Alphabet, and insurance company American International Group (AIG). Although Pfizer continues to report strong performance of its core drugs, sales of its COVID vaccine and treatment have likely peaked and sales are expected to decline going forward. We remain optimistic about the company long term as we believe management is taking the company in the right direction, focusing R&D, and making strategic acquisitions with profits generated from COVID vaccine sales.”
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Disclosure: None. 11 Best COVID Stocks To Buy According To Hedge Funds is originally published on Insider Monkey.