2 Dividend Stocks You Can Confidently Buy in a Bear Market

Did you know that a bad market technically isn’t a bear market until the benchmark S&P 500 index is at least 20% below its latest peak? We’re not quite there at the moment. After recovering from steep losses for a few days, the index is about 19% below the high water mark it set in January.

We may have emerged from a bear market already, but it would be pretty irresponsible of us not to prepare for more rough weather ahead. These two giants of the healthcare sector are about as reliable as businesses get. Here’s why you can count on steadily growing dividend payments from these two healthcare stocks.

Abbott Laboratories

You’ve more than likely seen some of Abbott Laboratories(ABT -0.21%) COVID-19 diagnostic products. If you’ve been having a hard time finding baby formula you’re also aware of this company’s nutrition business.

What you probably don’t know is that Abbott Laboratories recently paid its 394th consecutive quarterly dividend. The company’s also raised the payout for 50 consecutive years.

If you’re one of an estimated 37.3 million Americans living with diabetes, it’s just a matter of time before you’re also familiar with the most important new product Abbott Laboratories has launched in a long time.

In May, the Freestyle Libre 3 received clearance from the FDA to monitor blood sugar levels 24 hours a day for 14 days at a time. The device is about the size of two pennies stacked on top of each other which is a little smaller than the constant glucose monitor (CGM) it could end up competing with, the new G7 from Dexcom (DXCM -0.83%).

Dexcom developed the G7 for just 10 days of use at a time and it still hasn’t received clearance from the FDA. Without a significant competitor for the Freestyle Libre 3 in the US, Abbott’s CGM sales could shoot through the roof and easily offset slackening demand for COVID-19 tests.

Shares of Abbott are about 23% below the peak they reached in January even though the Freestyle Libre 3 seems destined to gain and maintain a leading share of the lucrative CGM market.

Abbott Laboratories shares offer a 1.7% yield at recent prices. While this yield isn’t very tempting at first glance, CGM sales could help it grow the payout by leaps and bounds.

Johnson & Johnson

If you’re willing to trade slower growth in the future for a higher yield in the present, consider Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.12%). With a AAA credit rating and a 60-year record of consecutive dividend raises, this healthcare conglomerate is a dividend investor’s dream come true.

Right now is a particularly good time to buy Johnson & Johnson because in 2023 it will spin off its consumer goods segment into a separate new business. This means existing shareholders will end up with two dividend-paying stocks in their portfolio for the price of one.

The company’s consumer goods segment has not been a major source of growth in a long time, but its pharmaceutical business is stronger than ever. For example, Tremfya is a recently launched psoriasis treatment with sales that rose 41% year over year in the first quarter and it’s already on pace to generate $2.4 billion in revenue this year,

Johnson & Johnson’s quarterly payouts have risen about 35% over the past five years. The stock currently offers a 2.5% yield and after it spins off its consumer segment, both stocks will pay dividends that meet or exceed the payments investors are currently receiving.

Without a stodgy consumer health segment holding it back, J&J’s soon-to-be streamlined operation could deliver impressive growth in 2023 and beyond. That makes it a solid addition now for just about any income-seeking investor’s portfolio.

Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends DexCom and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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