Stocks to buy

Healthcare stocks have been trailing the market this year. Vanguard’s Health Care ETF (NYSEARCA:VHT) is down 5% on the year, compared with a 10% year-to-date gain in the benchmark S&P 500 index. Investors should view the current slump as an opportunity to take positions in leading healthcare stocks with growth potential.

The current dip in healthcare stocks is largely due to investors pulling back after the pandemic when many companies saw their share prices more than double as the quest for a Covid-19 vaccine was front-and-center. However, many analysts view healthcare stocks as good bets during an economic downturn as the essential nature of medical care makes the companies and their shares recession-proof. Here are three of the most promising healthcare stocks for June 2023.

Pfizer (PFE)

Source: Manuel Esteban /

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is, of course, the leading pharmaceutical company behind many blockbuster medications. It was also one of the first to bring a Covid-19 vaccine to market. In 2022, the company sold $37.8 billion worth of its Covid-19 vaccine around the world. Pfizer also got good news recently when its Covid-19 antiviral pill was granted full approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Yet despite all the positives, PFE stock has declined 30% over the last 12 months, including a pullback of 26% this year. Through five years, Pfizer’s share price is up a modest 10%. The decline over the last year has been due to concerns about waning sales of its Covid-19 vaccine now that the pandemic has ended. After racking up record annual sales of $100 billion in 2022, investors and analysts appear worried that the good times are over for the company.

But Pfizer has other bestselling drugs on the market and a strong pipeline of new products in development. PFE stock also pays a generous dividend that yields 4.36%.

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)

Source: Ken Wolter /

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) has the distinction of being the largest healthcare company by revenue and the largest insurance company by net premiums in the entire world. This makes UNH stock a safe bet for investors as businesses and individuals prioritize paying their health insurance premiums in good economic times and bad. This helps to explain how UnitedHealth has grown to become one of the world’s largest companies.

UNH stock has proven to be a long-term winner for investors with its share price having doubled in the past five years. Investors looking for opportunities to buy a quality stock on the dip can get UnitedHealth Group on the cheap right now with the company’s share price down 7% on the year and a decent price-earnings ratio of 22. UNH stock has slumped with the broader healthcare sector, but the decline is not likely to last long.

McKesson (MCK)

Source: JHVEPhoto /

McKesson (NYSE:MCK) is another on the list of best healthcare companies to invest in. MCK stock has also been caught in the healthcare slump, though it appears that it has bottomed and is beginning to recover. It has gained 2% in the past six months. Over the last five years, the company’s share price has risen an impressive 173%. For those unfamiliar with McKesson, the company employs an army of 80,000 workers who collectively distribute nearly a third of all pharmaceuticals used in North America. Its service is considered essential by hospitals and medical clinics.

McKesson’s business continues to steadily grow. In the last two decades, MCK has increased its annual revenue by an average of 8.9% a year. That growth looks set to continue as the company raised its guidance for this year, citing increasing demand for distribution of medical devices and pharmaceutical medications. McKesson has increased its dividend for 15 consecutive years, including a 14.8% raise in 2022.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Joel Baglole has been a business journalist for 20 years. He spent five years as a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has also written for The Washington Post and Toronto Star newspapers, as well as financial websites such as The Motley Fool and Investopedia.

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