The 3 Best Pet Stocks to Buy Now

During the pandemic, many Americans got pets to keep them company when the lockdowns forced people to stay at home. Surveys and common sense indicate that most people will keep their new pets. With pets having become an integral part of millions of more American families, many companies are benefiting financially. Investors can hop on that trend by buying the best pet stocks.

As someone who works from home, doesn’t have children, and has two pets, I can attest that pets can certainly help fill the social void caused by a lack of physically present co-workers and children. I can also tell you that pets can be somewhat costly. All together, the food, health care, health insurance, grooming, and pet sitting services my wife and I purchase for our dog, Dallas, and our cat, Strawberry, are far from cheap. So, companies are making a great deal of money from us and from the millions of other pet owners out there.

Three of the best pet stocks to buy benefit from Americans’ increased spending on their pets. Let’s take a look:

Ticker Company Price
WOOF Petco Health and Wellness Company $14.95
ELAN Elanco Animal Health Incorporated $20.03
IDXX IDEXX Laboratories $356.34

Best Pet Stocks: Petco Health and Wellness (WOOF)

The front of a Petco (WOOF) store in Los Angeles, California.

Source: Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock.com

One of the largest retail chains focused on selling products for pets, the company has about 1,500 stores in the United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. In addition to selling almost every pet product you could think of both online and in stores, Petco also offers grooming services, sells pet insurance, and provides veterinary services at 200 of its locations.

Moreover, in March, the retail chain announced that it would partner with Rover.com, which it described as “the world’s largest online marketplace for loving pet care, to connect Petco customers to pet sitting, boarding and dog walking services.”

It’s hard for other companies to compete with Petco’s tremendous physical footprint and brand recognition, while the barriers of entry are high for veterinary services and pet insurance. Therefore, I’m not surprised that Petco is quite profitable, while its top and bottom lines have been growing impressively in recent years.

On the revenue front, the company reported $4.9 billion for 2020 and $5.8 billion for 2021.

WOOF stock has a reasonable forward price-earnings ratio of 16.08.

Elanco Animal Health (ELAN)

Elanco Animal Health logo on a smart phone screen next to a keyboard. ELAN stock.

Source: rafapress / Shutterstock

Elanco (NYSE:ELAN) sells medicine for both pets and farm animals. In 2020, it acquired Bayer’s animal health business, enabling it to become one of the world’s leaders in the space.

In the last year, the company has been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic, which kept people from taking their pets to veterinarians. It also faced headwinds by an outbreak of bird flu among chickens and turkeys. But in the last several quarters, the company seems to have regained its momentum.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, for example, its revenue growth, excluding the impact of the Bayer deal, came in at about 7%. Meanwhile, the expansion of its pet medicine business boosted its  overall gross margin by 4.6 percentage points, raising it to 56.6% overall. And its fiscal 2021 earnings per share came in at $1.05, way up from just 58 cents during the previous year, which was negatively impacted by the pandemic.

In the first quarter of 2022, Elanco’s net income came in at $48 million, versus a net loss of $61 million during the same period a year earlier. For all of 2022, Elanco expects to generate $1.15 to $1.21 of earnings per share. At the midpoint of that range, its forward  price-to-earnings ratio would be an attractive 17.

Elanco is still facing challenges, including problems with its businesses in Ukraine and China. Over the longer term, however, those issues should dissipate. Meanwhile, the company expects to seek approvals for a few of its propriety drugs in major markets this year. By next year, the proceeds from those drugs should significantly boost its top and bottom lines.

Best Pet Stocks: Idexx Laboratories (IDXX)

vet looking at a dog's xray to represent pet stocks like IDXX

Source: Shutterstock

Idexx Laboratories (NASDAQ:IDXX) provides diagnostic tools for pets and farm animals. Like Elanco, barriers of entry for Idexx’s sector are likely to be very high, since accurate medical diagnostic tools are not easy to produce.

What’s more, Idexx is well-established in the sector, as its top line in 2021 came in at a robust $3.2 billion, up from $2.7 billion in 2020.

Idexx expects to generate earnings per share of $8.11 to $8.35 this year. Additionally, it expects its revenue, excluding acquisitions, to increase at a healthy 7.5% to 10% pace in 2022.

Finally, conferring a great deal of respect upon IDEXX stock, Credit Suisse named it one of 25 names whose stocks are down a great deal, but whose earnings are rebounding. Additionally, Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) included it on a list of “stable stocks.”

On the date of publication, Larry Ramer 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.