5 Can't-Miss Health-Care Events This Week

Believe it or not, this week portends to be relatively quiet on the FDA ruling front unless there's a surprise approval or rejection well ahead of a listed PDUFA date. With few significant conferences under way, that means this week's biggest events are earnings, earnings, and more earnings!

This week I'm highlighting five earnings reports across a myriad of sectors that you simply can't miss. Four are industry-setters, and one is a dark-horse small-cap known for smashing estimates.

I think the most exciting report of the week will be delivered by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD  ) in the biotech arena. Gilead's been hard at work developing the next-generation hepatitis-C treatment in Sofosbuvir but had its four-in-one HIV treatment Stribild also approved last year. I'm looking forward to seeing to what extent Stribild is boosting Gilead's sales as the four-in-one combo is made entirely in house as opposed to Atripla, the drug it was made to eventually replace, which is made of compounds from Gilead, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. An entirely in-house HIV drug should mean bigger margins for Gilead. To be honest, I'd be shocked if Gilead doesn't trounce Wall Street's estimates. Look for this report on Monday.

Genome sequencing technology provider Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE  ) will also be offering up its fourth-quarter results on Monday. While all earnings reports are important, this one could be especially crucial for Life, with a strategic review of the company ongoing by Deutsche Bank and Moelis & Co. On paper, the fact that genome sequencing costs have dropped should make the company's products considerably more attractive to universities, hospitals, and labs working on preclinical discoveries, but a slowdown in Europe has taken most of the momentum out of Life Technologies' sails in the interim. This will be a must-watch report for sure.

Hospital operating giant HCA Holdings (NYSE: HCA  ) rounds out the group reporting on Monday. HCA and all hospital operators appear to be the biggest winners of the Affordable Care Act, since the individual insurance mandate should practically eliminate the bad debt expenses they report from underinsured or non-insured people they treat. Although it's not in full effect yet, the effects of the looming ACA implementation in 2014 may begin to show up in HCA's reports as smaller bad-debt expenses this quarter. I'll be closely watching HCA's guidance for clues to this, as well as whether a regular quarterly dividend might now be in the offing.

Health-benefits provider CIGNA (NYSE: CI  ) is another big name worth watching that's set to report on Thursday. Unlike hospital operators, health-benefit solutions providers have been hammered as the ACA threatens to cap prospective earnings and will deny them the opportunity to turn people away with pre-existing conditions. Still, the mere influx of new members is bound to count for something, and I've dubbed much of the sector incredibly undervalued. I'm hoping CIGNA's report and guidance will prove my point, but I'll just have to wait and see until Thursday.

Finally, that dark-horse candidate of mine is IV and oncology products maker ICU Medical (NASDAQ: ICUI  ) . ICU has crushed Wall Street's earnings estimates in 10 straight quarters by an average of 22.5% over that span. ICU is seeing growth from its previous acquisitions, but it's predominantly from an increase in organic demand for its products. ICU is set to report on Monday and, unsurprisingly, I'll be expecting a sizable earnings beat.

Is Stribild's gain, J&J's pain? Find out!
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