Once loved, healthcare stocks are quickly becoming some of the most hated stocks on the planet. It’s easy to understand why. Rising drug and procedure costs have made many healthcare stocks targets for various political pundits and presidential candidates. The growing calls for Medicare-For-All and/or socialized medicine has the potential to hit many healthcare firms right in the pocket. When coupled with the general market sell-off, the fast-moving healthcare sector has been a real downer.
But that has only made the sector prime for bargain shopping.
Even with calls for increased regulation, the healthcare sector still has great long-term potential. Thanks to rising global demand, aging populations as well as new high-tech and high-margined therapies, there are lots of levers for the sector to pull in order to keep the profits coming. And while some healthcare stocks will be hit hard in the regulation wave (like insurance and pharmacy benefit managers), many will be just fine. This could make the recent declines a tantalizing buy-in point for portfolios.
With the long-term in mind, here are five healthcare stocks that are worth picking up from the wreckage.
There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of Abiomed (NASDAQ:ABMD). The firm was only added to the S&P 500 about a year ago. But in that time, it has grown immensely in terms of fundamentals and share price.
ABMD produces the Impella, which is the world’s smallest heart pump. The device is minimally invasive. That’s a key selling point for doctors. Open-heart surgery is risky to begin with, but especially so for patients who have suffered some sort of major cardiovascular event. Impella eliminates many of the risks. Meanwhile, the device can be configured in a variety of applications. Because of this, the Impella is quickly becoming the standard of care for doctors in cardiac surgery.
As a result, sales of the device continue to surge. For full-year 2018 results, ABMD managed to see a 30% jump in sales and nearly 43% increase in profits based on continued demand for the game-changing device. And yet, the runway is still long for the firm. There’s plenty of market share in the U.S. to gain from older heart pump devices and global demand is still in its infancy. Meanwhile, the firm continues to attract plenty of buyout/M&A buzz and would be a wonderful tuck-in deal for many larger device stocks.
However, shares of ABMD are about 35% below their all-time highs from last year. And it isn’t cheap from a price-to-earnings perspective either. ABMD is a classic growth stock, but the recent dip makes for an interesting buy-in for those willing to hold it over the long term.
Saving money and reducing costs is exactly what any pending regulation in the sector will be all about. That’s great news for Teledoc (NASDAQ:TDOC). The firm is the largest player in the growing telemedicine field. Here, patients can fire-up their tablets, PCs or smartphones and speak to a physician in real time, get a diagnosis and even send a prescription to their local pharmacy.
Health insurers, benefit managers, employers and consumers seem keen on the idea. More employers are adding the service to their benefits package, with more than 40% of the Fortune 500 offering it in their benefits.
This has allowed TDOC to experience some very fast growth over the last few years. between 2016 and what its estimated to pull in this year, Teledoc has seen a staggering 64% compound annual growth rate in terms of revenues. Meanwhile, the firm is finally starting to turn those revenues into meaningful and growing profits.
And the growth could continue. TDOC has moved into the mental health arena and has been smartly buying smaller rivals to add instant market share. Meanwhile, more companies continue to see the benefits of adding the platform to their Human Resources package.
All in all, TDOC is a high growth healthcare stock that is now trading much lower than expected.
As one of biotech and healthcare’s elder statesmen, Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) has been hit hard over the last year on drug pricing news. Key blockbusters like Enbrel and Neulasta are two of the most prescribed drugs in their categories and mint cash for AMGN. Those blockbusters, as well as others, such as Repatha, blood-cancer drug Kyprolis and bone-density drug Prolia, are the reasons why Amgen has become a dividend and buyback stalwart. Their high prices are also the reason why AMGN is in the crosshairs of lawmakers.
Despite that and the drop in AMGN stock, investors may want to consider the firm.
For one thing, Amgen continues to dive head first into more advanced cancer and gene therapy drugs. These specialized drugs are naturally higher cost. There’s very little that regulation can do for them. With data from Amgen’s new cancer therapies crushing the trial, there’s a good chance that the firm will have another blockbuster in its arsenal. And we can’t forget about its massive pipeline either.
In the end, AMGN will be pretty immune from the effects of regulation and will continue to rack up massive cash flows from specialized drugs. That should help pad its now 3.32% dividend for years to come.
Stryker Corporation (SYK)
Artificial knees, hospital beds and even specialized bone cement … medical device company Stryker (NYSE:SYK) has it all. And that could make it a top healthcare stock contender to snag-up in the recent sector wreckage. SYK has its hands in many pots and that will allow it to handle anything the government throws at it.
This is evident by its continued surge in sales and revenues. Last quarter, SYK managed to see a big 8.5% jump in net sales. The key was that divisions featuring more high-tech devices and products, such as orthopedics and neurotechnology, saw big double-digit sales gains. The medical device firm has continued to boost these divisions with smart M&A as well as new innovative internal product launches. That’s a good thing as these higher-tech areas are seen as being more insulated to regulation. For Stryker and its shareholders, this could be gold for the long haul.
Speaking of that gold, SYK has been sharing the wealth with investors as well. The firm’s latest dividend represents a big 11% increase. At the same time, Stryker has been a buyback champ as well — reducing its share count by about $1 billion last year.
With a forward P/E of 22, Stryker isn’t super cheap, but considering its growth estimates and potential to keep the good times going in the face of regulation, that could seem like a bargain.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY)
It’s not surprising that old-school pharma has been hit hard in recent weeks. But there’s nothing particularly old school about Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY). That’s because BMY has quickly become the anti-cancer and advanced drug machine.
BMY already had top blockbuster cancer-fighter Opdivo, which pulls in more than $2 billion in quarterly revenues for the firm. But thanks to its recent $74 billion out of Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Bristol-Meyers will have one of the richest oncology portfolios around. This includes blockbusters Yervoy, Revlimid and Pomalyst which will all now be under its umbrella. This doesn’t even include CELG’s rich pipeline nor BMY’s own advanced cancer-fighting drugs under development.
As we said before, specialized cancer drugs are big revenues drivers and given just how advanced they are, the government may have little ability to regulate them. This should help drive revenues and cash flows at Bristol-Meyer’s for years to come. And yes, patent expiration for Revlimid is coming down the pike. But under BMY’s vast portfolio of drugs, that expiration means less than when it was CELG’s chief revenue driver.
Yet, BMY trades at a real discount to other big healthcare stocks. For investors, the top and future cancer fighter offers a great long-term play at cheap prices.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt was long AMGN and ABMD.