Few investment sectors arouse sharply divided opinion quite like healthcare stocks. This segment features incredible volatility as poor clinical trials could devastate individual companies. Moreover, rising drug prices and the resultant political drama often makes this sector difficult to pinpoint.
That’s doubly true under this current administration. During the campaign trail for the 2016 presidential election, then-real-estate-mogul Donald Trump lashed out against pharmaceuticals. Trump promised to deliver lower drug prices, in large part because it’s a deep-seated voter concern. Actual results, though, have disappointed.
Of course, investors in healthcare stocks must also keep a watch on Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). Once “merely” a retail disruptor, Amazon signaled its intent to push into healthcare with its $1 billion PillPack acquisition.
But investors willing to see through volatility can potentially enjoy significant profits, especially from currently beaten-down healthcare stocks. The reason? Despite much chatter, this category is incredibly robust. Checkout the benchmark exchange-traded fund iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF (NYSEARCA:IYH), which is up 14% year-to-date.
If you’ve got the nerve, here are five healthcare stocks that are down but not out.
Healthcare Stocks on the Comeback: LeMaitre Vascular (LMAT)
As a specialist in vascular-surgical devices, LeMaitre Vascular (NASDAQ:LMAT) plies its trade in a critical healthcare segment. LMAT has particularly gained worldwide accolades for dramatically improving the in situ bypass process. The company’s innovations now allow surgeons to access the granularity of the human body.
For the first few months of 2018, LMAT was one of the best-performing healthcare stocks. Unfortunately, an unexpectedly poor first-quarter 2018 earnings report tanked shares. Since then, the company has recovered much of those losses. Still, LMAT remains about 12% below this year’s highs.
I smell an opportunity here, primarily because LeMaitre levers strong financials. It has excellent strength in the balance sheet, with zero long-term debt being a highlight. LMAT also has near-elite level profitability margins relative to the competition.
I’d like to see sales growth tick up a little more, which is more than possible. LeMaitre has proven expertise in a high-demand segment, making this current lull a buying opportunity.
Healthcare Stocks on the Comeback: Celgene (CELG)
Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) is a biopharmaceutical firm that primarily specializes in cancer, along with other immune, inflammatory conditions. CELG has earned a notable reputation in within the industry. Its corporate website claims that over 300 clinical trials integrate Celgene-produced compounds.
Despite this fundamental tailwind, CELG stock hasn’t benefited in the technical charts. Shares are down more than 10% YTD. Furthermore, CELG veritably collapsed since early October 2017, dropping around 36% of market value. At the time, investors hated that the company failed its expensive clinical trials for its Crohn’s disease therapies.
Personally, I think a 36% freefall is too severe, but this is the stark reality of healthcare stocks: the good times are great, and the bad times are truly ugly. But fundamentally, CELG is too robust of an organization to throw away. Overall, it has excellent profitability and growth metrics, along with a proven track record.
In the longer-term, management should work out its kinks successfully.
Healthcare Stocks on the Comeback: Akebia Therapeutics (AKBA)
Among healthcare stocks, I find Akebia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:AKBA) one of the most interesting. Akebia specializes in high-altitude therapies; that is, the company researches our natural response to high-altitude environments to produce drugs for addressing anemia and other diseases.
Currently, Akebia has one drug, Vadadustat. Known as a hypoxia inducible factor, Vadadustat mimics our adaptive response to hypoxia, or low-oxygen conditions. This might sound like a nutty proposal, until you look at some compelling evidence. Namely, medical research indicates that people living in high-altitude locations are generally healthier.
The risk for AKBA stock is that the underlying company hasn’t impressed with its financial performances. Primarily, its earnings results are all over the map. Secondarily, Akebia is a one-egg-in-the-basket opportunity. If Vadadustat generates momentum, you’re off to the races. If not, I don’t need to tell you where your portfolio will end up.
So yes, AKBA stock is atrociously risky. But I think the science here is too compelling to ignore. If you’ve got the nerve, Akebia wants your number.
Healthcare Stocks on the Comeback: Scynexis (SCYX)
I love mushrooms. However, very few are actually edible. Many are harmful to human health, and some can kill you. Two years ago, CNN reported that fungi-related infections kill approximately 1.5 million people annually throughout the world. Scynexis (NASDAQ:SCYX) would like to an end to this reality.
SCYX is currently developing Ibrexafungerp, an unpronounceable antifungal therapy designed to treat serious fungal infections. That sounds great on paper. Unfortunately, SCYX stock appears to have suffered a fungal infection in the markets.
For the year, shares have hemorrhaged an alarming 42%. The reason is that fundamentally, Scynexis is a mess, and I’m using volatile healthcare stocks as my benchmark. SCYX has virtually no sales, so it remains a lottery ticket.
That said, I think this is a compelling lottery ticket. Scynexis has a surprisingly favorable cash-to-debt ratio. Also, the science behind Ibrexafungerp seems convincing and possibly viable. Finally, SCYX stock may have hit bottom earlier in May.
Healthcare Stocks on the Comeback: Spark Therapeutics (ONCE)
Arguably the most frustrating disease category is the genetic or inherited variety. Unlike some variants of heart disease or high-blood pressure, you apparently cannot mitigate against genetic ailments. Exercise all you want, or eat the healthiest diet imaginable: if you pulled the wrong gene card, you’re done.
Spark Therapeutics (NASDAQ:ONCE) wants to challenge this notion, and I certainly applaud that effort. Currently, Spark is working on Luxturna, a prescription gene-therapy drug for retinal disease caused by a genetic mutation. Luxturna has made significant progress, becoming the first FDA-approved gene therapy of its kind.
I truly wish Spark well because the science underlining ONCE stock is groundbreaking. That said, ONCE has failed to consistently impress shareholders. As a result, its technical chart is crazy wild.
So I hate to say it but ONCE is also a lottery ticket. For August, shares have tanked 19%. But given this high-demand market, speculators should give ONCE another look.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.