2 Obamacare Supreme Court Ruling "Losers" That Didn't Really Lose

Did these two contraceptive-drug makers lose with this week's Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare? Not really.

Jul 1, 2014 at 1:47PM

Put Obamacare in the losers' bracket this week.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced a 5-4 decision that prevents the federal government from requiring under the Affordable Care Act that some companies to offer health insurance coverage for specific types of contraceptives for which their owners have religious objections. Clear winners included Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties of Pennsylvania, the two closely held private companies involved in the case.

A couple of other companies were also directly affected by the Supreme Court ruling, as they sell emergency contraceptives. Actavis (NYSE:AGN) sells ella, while Teva Pharmaceutical (NYSE:TEVA) markets Plan B. Both birth control drugs encountered religious objections from Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.Now the highest court in the land has ruled that other closely held companies could opt out of paying for the drugs for employees. That includes as much as 90% of employers in the U.S. and over half of all employees.  

So should Actavis and Teva also be placed in the losers' bracket following the ruling? Probably not.

Neither stock took much of a hit from the potentially far-reaching decision. Actavis on Monday closed down by a paltry 0.1%. Teva fell by only 0.8%. Those small declines don't seem to reflect a worried investor community.

Why did the market yawn? For one thing, there is reason to suspect that the ripple impact won't be very large. Around 96% of U.S. small businesses are already exempt from Obamacare because they have fewer than 50 employees.

It is unknown how many employers that must comply with Obamacare could change their insurance plans as a result of the Supreme Court ruling. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 85% of larger organizations covered contraceptives prior to implementation of the Affordable Care Act. However, it should be noted that this poll didn't include details about coverage of emergency contraceptives such as ella and Plan B. 

There is a bigger reason to believe Actavis and Teva won't be affected significantly by the court's decision. The reality is that the controversial birth control drugs aren't critical for either company's success.

Actavis counts 321 different product groups in its lineup. Ella doesn't even get a footnote in the company's annual regulatory filing. Teva boasts over 55,000 product variants. All of the company's women's health products combined accounted for less than 3% of Teva's total revenue last year. 

For Actavis, the relative importance of ella will soon be diluted even further. The company in February announced plans to acquire Forest Laboratories (NYSE:FRX) for $25 billion. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission voted on Monday to approve the acquisition.  

While Actavis and Teva aren't really losers from the Supreme Court decision this week, that doesn't necessarily make both of them winners. Teva's shares are up 30% so far this year, but the drugmaker faces steep challenges ahead as generic rivals to its largest revenue generator, Copaxone, begin competing for market share.

Actavis, however, appears to be a different story. Its stock has climbed even more than Teva's in 2014 and could still have room to run. The buyout of Forest Labs could create as much as $1 billion annually in operational and tax synergies. Actavis' growth prospects, along with positives from its latest acquisition, should keep this stock in the winners' bracket.  

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Keith Speights has no positions in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Teva Pharmaceutical Industries. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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