Stocks to buy

After a relatively impressive 2022, the best healthcare dividend stocks have hit a temporary rough patch this year. However, savvy investors shouldn’t let this blip deter them from wagering on this defensive sector for income stock opportunities.

Amid economic turbulence, the healthcare industry stands as a reliable defensive play due to the large inelastic demand in the sector. Healthcare stocks have remarkable fortitude in the face of inflation, rising interest rates and adverse macroeconomic conditions.

There are plenty of opportunities in scooping up high yield healthcare dividend stocks that provide a safe haven for investors amidst the volatility in financial markets.

As we advance, the U.S. healthcare sector will continue outpacing the broader economy in terms of growth. Cutting-edge technology, an aging population, and breakthrough treatments for chronic diseases mainly drive the sector.

National health spending should grow at an incredible 5.4% through 2028, reaching a whopping $6.2 trillion. That said, lets look at the best healthcare dividend growth stocks to wager on at this time.

 UNH UnitedHealth Group $493.77
JNJ Johnson & Johnson $162.04
LLY Eli Lilly $432.40

UnitedHealth Group (UNH)

Source: Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Healthcare and insurance giant UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) usually lists the top healthcare dividend stocks to buy. After all, it’s been paying a dividend since 2003, with 13 consecutive years of payout growth. It trades at just 1.2 times forward sales estimates, with analysts forecasting a 20% upside from current levels.

It continues to shine brightly, despite the headwinds impacting its business. Earnings per share for the first quarter soared to $6.26, outpacing expectations by a healthy 10 cents.

The company’s medical loss ratio also clocked in at a lower-than-anticipated 82.2%, suggesting that fewer medical care premiums were paid overall.

Profitability numbers for the firm are remarkable and are in line or ahead of analyst estimates by a significant margin. Hence, long-term investors would find it easy to see the potential for significant gains in this robust healthcare giant.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)

Source: Alexander Tolstykh / Shutterstock.com

Pharma colossus Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) recently reported stellar first-quarter results and raised its full-year guidance. However, investor focus seems to be on the multibillion-dollar charge levied on its business in settling multiple litigations concerning its talc baby powder.

Further complicating things, the firm reduced its 2025 outlook for the pharmaceutical business to $57 billion from $60 billion.

Despite these hurdles, JNJ remains optimistic about the growth prospects of its pharmaceutical and MedTech divisions. Its A-graded profitability profile remains impressive and has held up regardless of the temporary slowdown in sales.

The company recently spun off its consumer segment into a new entity, Kenvue, enabling it to concentrate on its thriving core businesses.

With its whopping free cash flow base of over $16 billion, its industry-leading dividend profile is as safe as ever. JNJ is part of the elusive dividend kings club, which includes companies that have raised their dividends for 60 consecutive years.

Eli Lilly (LLY)

Source: shutterstock.com/Michael Vi

Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) is a renowned large-cap pharma stock with a reliable dividend stock for over 30 years.

It boasts an attractive dividend profile, with eight consecutive years of payout growth and a 4-year average yield of 4%.

Though it already struts a strong business, its bright future is what has investors salivating about its stock’s prospects. It is eagerly awaiting the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval for its type 2 diabetes drug branded as Mounjaro.

The potent anti-obesity treatment has proven to be remarkably successful in its study results thus far and could be green-lit by the end of the year. Once approved, its management expects it to generate a staggering $25 billion in annual revenue for the firm.

That’s nearly 50% of its 2022 sales of $28.5 billion. There’s also its company’s Alzheimer’s drug candidate Donanemab, which is essentially the cherry on top.

On the date of publication, Muslim Farooque 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 InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Muslim Farooque is a keen investor and an optimist at heart. A life-long gamer and tech enthusiast, he has a particular affinity for analyzing technology stocks. Muslim holds a bachelor’s of science degree in applied accounting from Oxford Brookes University.

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