Healthcare stocks, like most of this chaotic market, kicked off the new year with a volatile first week of trading. While the overall trend was positive last week, healthcare investors shouldn't necessarily take this early momentum too seriously. The overall market, after all, remains very much in flux at the moment due to an abundance of headwinds, such as rising interest rates, political turmoil, and the ongoing trade war.
That being said, there are a select few healthcare stocks actually worth buying heading into the second week of trading. Amarin (NASDAQ:AMRN) and Neptune Wellness Solutions (NASDAQ:NEPT), for example, are both tremendous bargains at current levels. Read on to find out more about these two promising healthcare growth stocks.
The bottom is near
Amarin, an Irish biopharma that markets a prescription fish oil medication called Vascepa, drew the ire of investors in after-market trading last week by releasing a softer-than-expected earnings forecast for 2019. In fact, the drugmaker's shares dropped by a staggering 7% immediately after this new hit the wires last Friday. As a result, Amarin's shares have now lost close to 50% of their value since hitting an all-time high only a few months ago.
Although investors were anticipating a breakout year for Vascepa due to the drug's positive cardiovascular outcome trial results released in late 2018, management decided to downplay that trial's impact on the drug's near-term commercial trajectory. Specifically, Amarin stated that its 2019 sales will come in at around $350 million -- a figure that is well below Wall Street's consensus estimate of $417.5 million.
Why the marked discrepancy? In their initial earnings guidance for the year, management argued that investors shouldn't expect a major bump in revenue until after Vascepa's label is officially expanded by the Food and Drug Administration -- an event that probably won't take place until next year. Wall Street, on the other hand, clearly thinks that doctors will begin to prescribe the drug off-label, presumably because of its demonstrated cardiovascular benefit in patients with persistently high triglyceride levels, despite being on statin therapy.
The good news for investors is that management appears to be issuing an underwhelming guidance mostly for strategic purposes. Vascepa's sales, after all, have already started to pick up in a big way in recent weeks and there's no reason to believe this noteworthy uptick will suddenly flatten out.
All in all, Amarin's dramatic decline over the past few months seems to be close to an end, given the company's exceptional outlook moving forward.
An emerging cannabis play
Over the course of 2018, most cannabis companies underwent a radical metamorphosis, thanks to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, the steady march toward widespread legalization in the United States, Mexico, and several other key geographies, as well as the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized low-THC products such as hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) oils.
In a move to capitalize on this rising tide, Neptune Wellness Solutions decided to abruptly change its core focus by launching a cannabis extract supply business last year. As part of this transition away from so-called nutraceuticals (foods with medical benefits) and toward cannabis extracts, the company signed partnership agreements with both Canopy Growth and Tetra Bio-Pharma in 2018. This change of heart could turn out to be an extremely smart move by Neptune. Brightfield Group, a top cannabis industry analyst group, after all, believes CBD oils can grow into a $22 billion-a-year marketplace, after all.
Even so, Neptune's stock has struggled mightily over the past few months due to the prolonged wait for a marijuana processing license from Health Canada. But the wait may finally be over.
According to Health Canada's website, Neptune's subsidiary, 9354-7537 Quebec Inc., was granted a processing license last Friday. While the company has yet to confirm this game-changing news, investors are already bidding up Neptune's stock. In after-hours trading last Friday, for instance, Neptune's shares rose by as much as 21%, and they are currently up by more than 12% in pre-market trading today.
All told, Neptune's pivot to cannabis appears to be taking shape with this key regulatory headwind out of the way, which should help its stock rebound in the days and weeks ahead.