You can find investment ideas in the strangest places. Take the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, for example. The legislation runs more than 900 pages long and is chock-full of government gobbledy-gook. But upon careful review, I have come to the conclusion that some parts of Obamacare can point us to some pretty good investing options. Here are three of the surprising ideas that I found.
1. Money where your mouth is
Are there spies watching your teeth? You might think so at first glance with the expanded National Oral Health Surveillance System included in Obamacare. Actually, the program focuses on collecting oral health data for establishing better public health policies. This is a great example of the federal government putting your money where your mouth is.
Is the federal government on to something by investing in oral health? Maybe so. One company that has made shareholders smile over the last few years is Align Technology (NASDAQ: ALGN ) . Align's shares are up nearly 57% over the past two years and have climbed 14% in 2013.
The company sells the Invisalign system that aligns teeth without traditional braces, as well as intra-oral scanners and other digital services supporting the dental market. Analysts expect Align will grow earnings at an annual rate of 20% over the next five years -- considerably higher than the 15.7% average for the industry.
2. How the 1% can make money for the 99%
Obamacare imposed billions of dollars in new taxes and fees on pharmaceutical companies -- but not for the most expensive drugs of all. Orphan drugs, which treat rare diseases, are excluded from new fees. These orphan drugs often command sky-high prices. Alexion's (NASDAQ: ALXN ) Soliris, for example, costs $440,000 per year. In a real sense, orphan drugs are the pharmaceutical equivalent of "the 1%" disparaged by Occupy Wall Street. And Obamacare exempts this 1% from higher fees.
This special treatment could help those of us in the 99%, though. While Alexion's jaw-dropping near-500% run over the past five years has slowed down of late, there are plenty of other up-and-coming companies focusing on orphan drugs that could be great investment alternatives. Sarepta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SRPT ) , for example, is up 36% so far this year and still appears to have considerable potential.
Sarepta's eteplirsen treats Duchenne muscular distrophy, a rare disease affecting only around one in 3,500 boys. Clinical studies for the drug have produced highly encouraging results. The company is currently considering pursuing accelerated approval with hopes to market eteplirsen more quickly.
3. Congressional ignorance to smart profits? Wii.
Section 4201 of Obamacare prohibits use of video games in promoting healthy living. Apparently, Congress hasn't heard of Wii Fit. Many retirement communities and long-term care facilities use the interactive game extensively to promote physical fitness for senior citizens. But, it's Congress. They probably were just thinking about Pac-Man.
However, the ignorance of the lawmakers who drafted the legislation just might point to a smart investing choice. One organization championing the use of Wii Fit video games in promoting health in the elderly is Sunrise Senior Living. . Sunrise was bought out earlier this year by Health Care REIT (NYSE: HCN ) .
Health Care REIT presents a compelling alternative for investors. The real estate investment trust's $18 billion portfolio includes senior living communities, as well as medical office buildings, inpatient and outpatient centers, and life science facilities. Its dividend yield currently stands at 4.5%. Even better, there's plenty of growth opportunity in the stock as well. Shares rose 30% over the past two years and are up nearly 12% year-to-date.
These three ideas prove that if you look hard enough for something, you can find it. If we can find investment ideas in Obamacare, there's no telling what else holds promise. Now if I could only find my old VCR instruction manual. It's probably loaded with great ideas.
You don't have to read the fine print to find out one awesome investing idea, though. The Motley Fool's chief investment officer has selected his No. 1 stock for this year. Find out which stock it is in the brand-new free report: "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2013." Just click here to access the report and find out the name of this under-the-radar company.