Even under normal circumstances, the healthcare stocks are prone to headline risk. Case in point, what happened to Sarepta (NASDAQ:SRPT) last night when the stock fell 15% on FDA news. Add to it that the U.S. is approaching another round of elections, and it makes healthcare stocks even riskier than normal — through no fault of their own.
In late June, I discussed three healthcare stocks to buy and for the most part the trades paid quickly. But since then, the stock markets in general had several mini corrections. We had fear flashes over geopolitical headlines, China’s currency crisis and most recently, a bond-yield crash. So it’s only fair to revisit those names again as the dust is settling.
So today we are discussing United Health (NYSE:UNH), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) stocks. I’ll start with my conclusion first. All three are still good stocks to buy at these levels — but for different reasons.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)
Johnson & Johnson is a long-time American success story. They are a global household name and their products are ubiquitous. From a valuation perspective, JNJ stock is relatively cheap because it has a modest price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio and pays a decent dividend.
JNJ could be cheaper, but this is a management team that has proven itself through thousands of headline worries. The current headlines are nothing new for JNJ. So they have nothing but a temporary effect on the overall trajectory of JNJ stock.
That said, Johnson & Johnson is still a buy here for anyone who’s looking to add this sector to their portfolio. It is important to note that the company is probably past its talcum-powder headline risk by now even though it’s not officially resolved. So I wouldn’t take a full position all at once. Alternatively, I can sell puts below the current JNJ stock price to generate income from the intrinsic value of JNJ stock this way I don’t even need a rally to win.
United Health (UNH)
United Health stock has performed the best of the three healthcare stocks since my last write up. It had an immediate 9% spike so from a trading perspective that was good timing.
In addition, the overall thesis on UNH stock since then has not changed. It is still trailing the S&P 500 year-to-date. But over the last five years, UNH stock is up 180%, which is four times better than the S&P.
After the July spike, UNH stock price faded the rally, but is has fallen into the same support zone from which it broke out. So this is the opportunity for the bulls to rinse-and-repeat another run.
Technically speaking, UNH range is tightening into a point, so a move is coming in either direction. It is setting lower-highs and higher-lows at a point that coincides with the 12 month point-of- control for the stock. This is significant because this is literally where bulls and bears have agreed the most.
So they will fight it out hard at this price once more and create support. As long as UNH stock holds above $240 per share, the bulls have a shot at retesting $260 or higher. There will be resistance along the way perhaps at $255 and most certainly at $256.50.
Conversely, there is the threat that the bears are able to break below $240 per share. If that happens, it could turn into a bearish head-and-shoulder pattern to target $224 per share. This is not a forecast but it’s definitely a scenario that exists currently below UNH stock price.
Pfizer stock was once bulletproof, but it can’t even find footing of late. But maybe this time will be different. From current levels Pfizer stock can mount a revenge rally. Clearly so far, its stock performance metrics are poor so this has a lot of hopium tied to it.
So this is definitely a tactical trade, and it should have a hard stop below $34 per share. This inadvertently is also a long-term five-year-old pivot point that also happens to be the point of control for that same period. So mathematically speaking, this is where bulls and bears love to disagree. This congestion should act as support.
Simply put, if I buy PFE stock here, I literally have more upside potential than downside risk based on the 5-year price history. Fundamentally speaking, PFE is not expensive selling at 17 P/E and three times book. Yes, it can get cheaper, but this trade set up is tactical, so fundamentals don’t matter as much for the short term.
Longer-term, the Pfizer management team needs to re-earn Wall Street trust so that trades like this one would be with conviction. Maybe then the bulls will be able to drag the PFE stock out of the dumps and back in line with the overall stock market or at least its sector.