Bear Market Blues? 3 of the Best Stocks to Own in 2023

If you’re tired of the bear market, you’re in good company. Most investors are more than ready for stocks to take off in a new bull market. We can’t control the timing of that. But we can control one thing — what’s in our portfolio.

Now is the perfect time to buy companies that can grow revenue during these tough times, and thrive when things improve, too. Earnings performance should lead to stock market gains over time. So let’s use this bear market to prepare for better days — and check out three of the best stocks to own in 2023.

1. Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX -1.17%) is heading for its biggest catalyst in a long while. The company is submitting exa-cel, its gene-editing treatment for blood disorders, to regulators in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe this month.

This could be big for two reasons. First, it marks Vertex’s move beyond its cystic fibrosis (CF) specialty into another treatment area. And second, exa-cel could become a blockbuster. Today, treatments are limited for blood disorders beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. And exa-cel is designed to be a one-time curative option.

Any positive news from regulators — and a potential approval — could send Vertex shares higher. And over the long term, revenue from the product could support share price growth.

It’s also important to remember that Vertex’s CF business is far from being an old slow growth one. The company’s star drug Trikafta brought in $5.6 billion last year. And revenue still could climb as it gains reimbursements in various countries and approvals in younger age groups. Vertex also is working on another CF treatment in phase 3 clinical trials.

This biotech company’s track record of earnings, an upcoming exa-cel regulatory decision, and strong pipeline make it a great stock to own in the coming year — and well beyond.

2. Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ -0.06%) is a company we all know well. The pharmaceutical giant sells brands we use every day such as Band-Aid bandages and Aveeno bath products. They are part of the consumer health business.

But J&J actually makes most of its revenue through its two other businesses: pharmaceuticals and medtech. And that’s where J&J plans on putting the focus as of next year. In 2023, J&J will spin off consumer health into a separate company to be called Kenvue. 

This means J&J can move forward and grow its most successful businesses. In the third quarter, pharmaceutical sales rose 9.2%, and medtech climbed 8.1%. That’s as consumer health sales rose less than 5%.

The big pharma player also is making moves to reinforce its strengths. It recently announced the acquisition of Abiomed. The medical device company makes pumps that help a failing heart recover. Abiomed has grown sales over about 18 years. J&J expects the deal to add to its adjusted earnings as of 2024. So, 2023 can be a good time to get in on the J&J story.

Finally, you’ll also want to buy J&J for its dividend. The company is part of a group called Dividend Kings. They’ve raised their dividends for at least the past 50 years. This means J&J can bring you not only share performance, but also growth in passive income.

3. Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical (ISRG -0.93%) is the global leader in robotic surgery. In spite of this leadership, revenue still suffered during certain points of the pandemic. That’s as hospitals postponed surgeries. Each surgery represents revenue for Intuitive — because hospitals have to buy instruments and accessories from Intuitive for use with Intuitive’s robots.

The postponement of surgeries due to coronavirus hospitalizations remains a risk. But it seems less of one today than it was a year ago. And with this risk diminishing, the future looks bright for Intuitive.

We’ve already seen signs of gains. In the third quarter, worldwide procedures increased 20%. And revenue climbed 11%. Intuitive also bet on its own future by buying back $1 billion in common stock in the quarter.

Intuitive now has more than 7,300 Da Vinci surgical systems placed in hospitals worldwide. That’s a 13% increase over the third quarter of last year.

It’s also important to note that robotic surgical systems cost about $1 million. So, hospitals are likely to use the system as long as they can — that should help Intuitive hold onto its leadership.

Today, Intuitive shares are trading at 55 times forward earnings estimates. That’s down from more than 72 back in January. And revenue is on the rise. Considering Intuitive’s market position and recent growth, 2023 looks like a great time to get in on this healthcare stock.

Adria Cimino has positions in Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Abiomed, Intuitive Surgical, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Simonne Stigall

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