Four Stocks To Watch As The Race For A Coronavirus Vaccine Picks Up

The rapid spread of coronavirus and the potential for global economic disruption led to the worst day for US stocks in two years yesterday. Though the human and financial cost of the virus is massive and growing, every crisis presents opportunities for savvy traders. For example, the likelihood of disruptions to business travel schedules stemming from COVID-19 has prompted traders to bid up the stock of Zoom Communications (ZM), a remote video conferencing platform, to record highs; in fact, the stock is up an incredible 59% so far this year alone!

One more direct way to speculate on potential beneficiaries of coronavirus’s spread is through the pharmaceutical companies seeking to develop vaccines and treatments for the virus:

GILD and JNJ: Potential Opportunity in Two Healthcare Stalwarts

More conservative investors may want to watch the stocks of large, profitable companies doing research into potential vaccines such as Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Johnson and Johnson (JNJ). For its part, Gilead has caught a bid after a World Health Organization (WHO) official stated that “There is only one drug right now that we think may have real efficacy and that's Remdesivir," referring to Gilead’s experimental drug that was also used to treat Ebola. GILD has been able to shrug off the broader market’s headwinds to close at its highest level since 2018, and positive results from expanded trials of Remdesivir may boost the stock further in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Janssen Pharmaceutical division of Johnson and Johnson, another healthcare stalwart, has a strong track record of quickly developing vaccines for epidemics and began working on a vaccine for COVID-19 weeks ago. While it may be a step behind Gilead in developing a potential breakthrough drug, it’s hard to bet against Johnson and Johnson’s team. JNJ has pulled back to test its 50-day EMA along with the broader market, presenting a potential opportunity to buy the stock at a discount for bullish traders.

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