Shares of Abbott Laboratories (ABT) - Get Report  have plunged 21.59% over the past year and 11.86% over the past month, and when the investment herd is behaving stupidly, it offers a chance to profit.

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As big pharmaceuticals and other health care companies get pilloried by presidential candidates over greed, investors fear increased government pressure on prices. This worry is greatly exaggerated, and it should soon fade, which makes Abbott a rare bargain for a multi-year combination of growth and income.

First, consider Abbott's rock-solid ABT data by Ychart track record of stability, in good times and bad. The company has paid 369 consecutive quarterly dividends, going all the way back to 1924.

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A lot of very bad things have occurred since that year, but they didn't stop the company from declaring dividends. Last year, Abbott hiked its dividend by 8%, and the yield stands at 2.68%.

Abbott also enjoys fuel for future growth, via its planned $25 billion buyout of St. Jude Medical, which was announced late last month. The acquisition would greatly fortify Abbott's medical devices segment, which faces long-term growth momentum from the Affordable Care Act and a graying U.S. population.

Based in Abbott Park, Ill., Abbott combines the best of both worlds: It is a growth stock that consistently makes Standard & Poor's list of dividend aristocrats. With a market capitalization of $56.81 billion, Abbott serves customers in more than 150 countries and employs about 74,000 full-time people.

Abbott operates across four business divisions: branded generics, diagnostics, medical devices and nutrition.

The company offers a diversified variety of medical devices and diagnostic tests used globally by blood banks, doctor's offices, health clinics, hospitals and labs to diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer, heart failure, hepatitis, HIV and metabolic disorders. The company also provides point-of-care cardiac diagnostic tests for emergency rooms.

The analyst consensus estimate calls for Abbott to post full-year earnings of $2.21 a share, compared with $2.15 last year. For 2017, earnings are expected at $2.47 a share.

Abbott's trailing 12-month price-earnings ratio is just 23.73, low compared with the P/Es of major competitors Merck (34.50), Pfizer (28.20) and Teva Pharmaceuticals (26.40), as well as the industry (29.15).

And yet, the one-year median analyst consensus price target for the stock is $47, and it is $49 on the high side, which would represent a gain of nearly 27%.

As one of the globe's largest producers of prescription drugs, diagnostic tests and vision care products, Abbott should continue to benefit from an older and sicker population in developed as well as developing countries.

The company has boosted its dividend for 26 years in a row, and its stock has plenty of room for growth this year and beyond. That is an attractive investment package in this increasingly uncertain environment.


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John Persinos is editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, the author owned TEVA.