The administration has basically admitted that the rollout and launch of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, has been nothing short of a disaster so far. The website was never prepared to handle the huge traffic. J.P. Morgan has several companies it thinks will win from this rollout: CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS), Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE: CAH), Catamaran Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRX), Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX), Omnicare Inc. (NYSE: OCR) and Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG).
Government officials have blamed outside vendors and are still giving many of the same vendors more contracts. Insurance companies are dropping coverage or raising the costs of existing health plans. The president has even back pedaled somewhat after years of saying that consumers would be able to keep their existing health plans.
The Health Care Services, Distribution and Technology analysts at J.P. Morgan have taken a peek behind the Affordable Care Act curtain. They predict that despite the horrific rollout to this very controversial legislation, some top companies will benefit now and in the future. While enrollment in private exchanges remains relatively low at the current time (1% of covered lives for 2014), various forecasts by health plans and benefits consultants point to a high level of interest among employers. Here is a list of the top stocks that may be poised to benefit from what has been a very botched and rocky to start to Obamacare.
CVS Caremark Corp. (NYSE: CVS) looks to see some immediate benefit from the new plans. The company reported outstanding earnings last week that were up 24% year over year. With opportunities across pharmacy benefit management (PBM), retail and the Minute Clinics, the company is poised to increase sales and market share. Investors do receive a 1.4% dividend. J.P. Morgan has a $74 price target for the stock. The Thomson/First Call estimate is $67. CVS closed Wednesday at $63.87.
Cardinal Health Inc. (NYSE: CAH) continues to outperform relative to expectations. The company posted strong earnings across all sector,. The J.P. Morgan team sees revenues up 10% and operating profits up 27% in fiscal 2014. They raise their price target on the stock to $68 from $66. The consensus target is posted at $66, and the stock closed Wednesday at $61.25. Investors are paid a 2% dividend.
Catamaran Corp. (NASDAQ: CTRX) is another name that reported outstanding third-quarter earnings. The company provides PBM services and health care information technology solutions to the health care benefits management industry in North America. J.P. Morgan has a $66 price target for the stock, the same as the consensus target. The stock closed on Wednesday at $59.73.
Express Scripts Holding Co. (NASDAQ: ESRX) was conservative in its commentary. That has bolstered the J.P. Morgan analysts’ outlook on the stock. While prescription volumes may drop in the short term, the analysts are confident the long-term outlook remains robust. The J.P. Morgan price target for the stock is $83, down from $85, but the consensus is much lower at $74. The stock closed Wednesday at $64.86.
Omnicare Inc. (NYSE: OCR) operates as a health care services company that specializes in the management of pharmaceutical care in the United States and Canada. The company operates in two segments: Long-Term Care Group and Specialty Care Group. It provides pharmaceuticals and related pharmacy and ancillary services to long-term care facilities, as well as chronic care facilities and other settings. Investors are paid a 1.0% dividend. The J.P. Morgan target for the stock is $64, while the consensus is at $61. Omnicare closed Wednesday at $55.72.
Walgreen Co. (NYSE: WAG) revenue from established stores climbed 5.8% last month, higher than analysts expected, as the nation’s largest drugstore chain doled out more flu shots and absorbed a smaller revenue hit from generic drugs. The pharmacy giant, like it competition, will benefit from the increased drug benefits in some plans. Investors are paid a 2.1% dividend. The J.P. Morgan target price is $66, and the consensus is placed at $62. Walgreen closed Wednesday at $59.84.
The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, for the time being. While the startup has been ridiculous, it is a good bet that many in Washington are under the gun to fix things fast. Investors looking to buy these top names for their portfolio can feel comfortable that any negative news regarding Obamacare has long since been priced in.