Current Dividend Yield: 4.4%
Performance So Far in 2012: +1%
Merck (NYSE:MRK) is very similar to Pfizer in many ways. Though it didn’t have quite as impressive a 2011, it edged up nicely. And though it’s not in the red in 2012, it assuredly has been left behind. It, too, faces patent expirations and is hoping its pipeline will step up to fill the void.
On the plus side? It, too, is trading for a bargain P/E of under 10. It, too, pays a dividend well north of 4%.
There obviously is not breakneck growth in pharmaceuticals, but the continued roll-in of the $41 billion Schering-Plough buyout from a few years ago will surely provide new opportunities for Merck. At the very least, it ensures the company won’t fade away.
Throw in solid cash flow and a history of dividends since 1935, and you can understand why this stable company is a bedrock buy for many portfolios.