Healthcare Business

5 Top Hospital Stocks to Buy Getting a Boost From the Affordable Care Act

If any recent subject has generated controversy, it has been the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it is also known. The reality is that while it may have changed things for some individuals and their health care plans, it is creating opportunities for companies that have a direct hand in the program or related government health care programs. Investors looking to profit from this massive change in the health care structure in the United States may have an outstanding opportunity now.

In a new report from the Health Care Facilities and Services analysts at Deutsche Bank, they believe there are plenty of reasons to retain a very bullish stance on the acute care hospital group. The analysts also think that the ACA can increase EBITDA growth by 4% to 8% in 2015 relative to current company guidance. This could lead to very positive earnings upside.

The Deutsche Bank team has five stocks rated as a Buy, and they lift the price targets on every one.

Community Health Systems Inc. (NYSE: CYH) thesis is predicated on coverage expansion under ACA reform providing a substantial boost in 2014 and beyond and a large asset base providing geographic diversification and scale advantages. Community is one of the stocks that the Deutsche Bank team sees as most levered to the states where Medicaid expansion could be the greatest. The Deutsche Bank price target is lifted from $58 to $65. The Thomson/First Call consensus price objective for the stock is $57.56, while shares closed Tuesday at $54.78.

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HCA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HCA) trades at a low 15 times forward earnings. HCA has scale advantages as the largest private hospital operator in the United States and is diversified geographically. The company also benefits from local market density, with the number one or number two market share in most of its local markets. The Deutsche Bank team thinks that increasing Medicaid enrollment and the potential for additional states to expand Medicaid eligibility could provide upside to their model and provide built in growth for 2015. Deutsche Bank raises the price target from $72 to $82, and the consensus target is $74.90. HCA shares closed trading Tuesday at $70.70.

LifePoint Hospital Inc. (NASDAQ: LPNT) is a leading hospital company focused on providing quality health care services close to home. Through its subsidiaries, LifePoint operates more than 60 hospital campuses in 20 states. In many of the cities the company serves, LifePoint is the sole community hospital provider. They are another of the companies that Deutsche Bank sees as benefiting from the 2015 Medicaid expansion. Deutsche Bank raises the price objective on the stocks from $78 to $85. The consensus target is $78.25. Shares closed Tuesday at $72.90.

Tenet Healthcare Corp. (NYSE: THC) is a national, diversified health care services company with more than 105,000 employees. The company operates 80 hospitals, more than 190 outpatient centers, six health plans and Conifer Health Solutions, a leading provider of health care business process services in the areas of revenue cycle management, value-based care and patient communications. Deutsche Bank raises its price target from $63 to $75. The consensus target is $63.50. The shares ended trading on Tuesday at $60.97.

Universal Health Services Inc. (NYSE: UHS) is one of the nation’s largest hospital companies, operating, through its subsidiaries, behavioral health facilities, acute care hospitals and ambulatory centers throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The company’s hospitals offer various services, including general and specialty surgery, internal medicine, obstetrics, emergency room care, radiology, oncology, diagnostic care, coronary care, pediatric services, pharmacy services and/or behavioral health services. Investors are paid a small 0.4% dividend. Deutsche Bank lifts the price target to $125 from $115. The stock closed on Tuesday at $111.62.

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Combine an aging population with an influx of new patients as a result of the ACA, and the hospital stocks are a solid place for long-term investors. While not flashy or super high-profile, these companies are expected to deliver solid earnings growth for the foreseeable future. This is not a claim all market sectors can make after an extended market run.

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