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The health care sector has been in the middle of major political and economic debates since the Obama administration began pushing its aggressive health care law last year. Since that time, many have argued over how to move forward in the space, and over economically viable ways to provide care to the citizens of our nation. With Obama's recent budget plans for 2012, he will aim to increase spending in the health sector -- perhaps boosting the outlooks for some of the firms within it. From an ETF standpoint, health care funds have had a strong 2011, with iShares and State Street's largest health care ETFs (IHF and XLV) up 12% and 4%, respectively. Today, an announcement from a major medical firm will come that will put these funds in focus for the day [see also Warning: Obama's $3.73 Trillion Budget Could Sink These Three ETFs].
Today, prior to market open, Medtronic (NYSE: MDT ) will report their most recent fiscal earnings. The Minneapolis-based firm is the world's largest medical technology company and is also a member of the Fortune 500. Medtronic develops numerous medical devices to aid more than 30 diseases such as heart failure, diabetes, and chronic pain. The firm's market cap is currently sitting at just over $44 billion, and annual revenues are in the neighborhood of $15 billion [see also Beyond XLV: Five Alternative Health Care ETFs ].
Analysts expect Medtronic to report EPS of $0.84 per share, with revenues just under the $4 billion mark for the most recent quarter. Over the past year, the company has only missed one of its quarterly forecasts. For the most part, it does a good job managing their earnings, with the biggest outlier being only 2.30% away from estimates. The current prediction would represent a growth in sales over about 3% from the previous year.
With the major earnings announcement on tap, the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Medical Devices Index Fund (NYSE: IHI ) should be active in Tuesday trading. This fund measures the performance of the medical equipment sector of the U.S. equity market. Medtronic ranks as the top holding, accounting for 12% of the ETF's total assets, but other big names appear in the fund as well, such as Covidien (8.4%) and Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO ) (8.3%). IHI has gained over 10% this year, and nearly 20% in the last 52 weeks. If Medtronic's earnings come in as predicted, look for IHI to have a strong trading day, but if the company falls short, IHI may struggle to stay afloat.
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Disclosure: Photo courtesy of Bobak Ha’Eri. No positions at time of writing.
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