The demand for high-quality healthcare products tends to remain strong in all economic conditions. That's a big reason the healthcare sector is a great place for investors to fish for opportunities.
So, which stocks are smart buys right now? We asked a team of healthcare experts to weigh in, and they highlighted Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Align Technology (NASDAQ:ALGN), and Intersect ENT (NASDAQ:XENT).
A dirt-cheap biotech growth stock
Sean Williams (Celgene): Even though I've absolutely beaten the door down on Celgene in May, it's the top healthcare stock to buy in my mind right now -- and also a company I added to my portfolio very recently.
The worries concerning Celgene primarily relate to its overreliance on Revlimid, which is expected to account for $9.5 billion of an expected $14.8 billion in net product sales this year, and its fumbling of the ozanimod new drug application (NDA). Expected to be a blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug after delivering stellar clinical results, ozainmod's NDA submission contained deficiencies that'll require additional studies to be run. In effect, Celgene's portfolio diversity has been pushed further down the road.
To begin with the former concern, Celgene has done an admirable job of protecting its core asset, Revlimid. In December 2015, it settled patent litigation with a number of would-be generic entrants, preserving the bulk of Revlimid's cash flow through Jan. 31, 2026. Any threats to Revlimid are likely to be met with similar settlements. Meanwhile, the number of patients using Revlimid, the duration of use, and the price of the drug continue to tick higher.
As for ozanimod, there's no way to spin Celgene's error as good news. But, there's also no reason to hang our heads as investors given that in, say, two or three years, ozanimod appears primed to hit pharmacy shelves. If ozanimod is expanded into both Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, it could easily surpass $4 billion in annual sales when added with multiple sclerosis. My opinion remains that Celgene got one heck of a deal when it acquired Receptos for $7.2 billion.
And behind Revlimid and ozanimod are more than three dozen collaborations, billions of dollars in share buybacks, and a product portfolio that continues to grow organically by label expansion. Assuming Celgene's updated 2020 forecast proves accurate, you'd be buying into a company valued at less than seven times its 2020 EPS projections right here. Given its double-digit sales growth rate, that's far too cheap to ignore.
Expensive -- and worth the price
Keith Speights (Align Technology): Align Technology ranked as the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 last year. It wasn't surprising, though, that its astounding momentum could spur Wall Street analysts to question if the good times could keep on rolling for the maker of Invisalign clear dental aligners. That's what happened in April when Morgan Stanley downgraded Align from "overweight" to "equal-weight."
Align promptly proceeded to shatter expectations in its first-quarter results. At the time of this writing, the stock had already topped the consensus Wall Street price target for one year from now. How is Align defying gravity? It's simple: Demand remains very strong for Invisalign and for the company's intra-oral scanners.
But can Align really keep it up? I think so. The company only claims a share of 12% of the available market. Align's share of the teen market is less than 5%. Even better, Align has rolled out new products and should continue to innovate in ways that expand the market. The company thinks it can grow the total addressable market by around 40% over the next few years by developing clear aligners that can treat more severe cases of malocclusion.
Align stock is certainly pricey, with shares trading at a whopping 51 times expected earnings. However, the company still has plenty of room to grow and has demonstrated its ability to execute. In my view, Align is expensive -- but worth the price.
A medical device maker with room to run
Brian Feroldi (Intersect ENT): Roughly one out of every eight adults suffers from chronic sinusitis. This is a debilitating, recurring condition where the nasal passages become so inflamed that breathing becomes challenging.
Healthcare providers usually treat chronic sinusitis with antibiotics, but more severe cases often require surgery. Last year, about 500,000 surgeries were performed in the U.S. alone to bring relief to these patients.
Intersect ENT is a medical device maker that is pioneering better ways to help treat this chronic condition. The company has developed a family of products that are inserted directly into a patient's nasal cavity. Once inserted, they expand and work to keep the sinuses open so that the patient can breathe normally. They also simultaneously deliver a steroid directly into the inflamed area. The combination helps provide patients with lasting relief. Over time, the device gradually disappears as it is slowly absorbed by the body.
Intersect's unique portfolio of products has allowed it to post rapid growth in sales and gradually improved its financial position. For 2018, management is guiding for sales to land between $111 million and $116 million. The midpoint of this range represents growth of about 18% year over year. If achieved, the company's net loss should continue to shrink considerably. With more than $103 million in cash on its balance sheet, the company shouldn't need to raise any more capital to reach profitability, either.
Intersect's management team believes its current family of products have an addressable market opportunity of about $3 billion. That's a huge number when compared to the company's revenue guidance for the full year, so investors have every reason to expect sales growth to remain strong for the foreseeable future.
With profitability drawing closer and a large market opportunity ahead, I think right now is a fine time for med-tech investors to pick up a few shares of this fast-growing business.