As the market surges higher, investors start to get a touch more concerned about where they allocate capital. One sector that is consistently ranked as an overweight from almost every Wall Street firm we cover is health care. There is a solid reason for that, as health care spending in the United States continues to grow each year almost unabated. With an aging population that is living longer, it is easy to see why.
A new report from UBS updates the firm’s North America Alpha Preference list. The additions and deletions were all to the least preferred stocks list, so we focused on the four stocks to buy in health care. Again, it is a sector that should continue to see strong capital inflows in 2015.
Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is a top large-cap biotech that has seen some very elevated volatility and some sizable insider buying recently. While the stock was hit hard late last year and gapped down big due to a price war with AbbVie for hepatitis C (HCV) drugs, it appears as though the data for the company’s top HCV drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni continue to sell well and are tracking to come in at the high end of the 2015 guidance. With the concern over pricing and competition starting to fade, the stock has rebounded nicely and is a core biotech health care holding.
The UBS price target for the stock is $120, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is lower at $118.91. The shares closed Monday at $104.51.
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, and it provides pharmaceuticals and related pharmacy and ancillary services to long-term care facilities, as well as chronic care facilities and other settings. This is a pure play on the aging theme.
Omnicare investors are paid a 1.15% dividend. UBS has a price target of $80, while the consensus target is $78.89. Shares closed Monday at $78.54.
HCA Holdings Inc. (NYSE: HCA) trades at a low 14 times estimated 2015 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 top or number two market share in most of its local markets. Many on Wall Street agree that increasing Medicaid enrollment and the potential for additional states to expand Medicaid eligibility could provide upside for the stock and built-in growth for 2015.
The UBS price target for this top hospital stock is $86, and the consensus target is $85.18. HCA shares closed trading Monday at $70.86.
Horizon Pharma PLC (NASDAQ: HZNP) is a specialty pharmaceutical company based in Ireland, and through its subsidiaries it develops and commercializes medicines for the treatment of arthritis, pain and inflammatory diseases. The company’s best known products include Actimmune, for reducing the frequency and severity of serious infections associated with chronic granulomatous disease, and Duexis, a proprietary tablet formulation for the relief of signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
The UBS price target is $24, but the consensus is lower at $21.56. Shares closed the trading day Monday at $18.57.
Bought as a basket, these four companies could offer long-term investors a perfect complement of stocks covering the health care sector. Not only is the future very solid for these top companies, they are all somewhat defensive in nature and may hold up far better in a sell-off.