Healthcare stocks have been on a roller coaster ride this year. The global trade war, U.S. politics, and a seemingly less permissive Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have all taken on a toll on the sector in 2019. Nonetheless, there are still a handful of healthcare stocks worth owning right now.
With this theme in mind, we asked three of our Motley Fool contributors for their top healthcare stock picks. They selected Amarin (AMRN 1.29%), Intuitive Surgical (ISRG 2.33%), and Teladoc Health (TDOC -2.75%). Here's a brief rundown on why these three healthcare stocks might be worth buying right now.
Buy the dip
George Budwell (Amarin): Earlier this month, Amarin, a mid-cap biopharma that markets the prescription omega-3 treatment Vascepa, took a big step backwards on the news that the Food and Drug Administration has decided to hold an advisory committee meeting to discuss the pros and cons of the drug's proposed label expansion for patients with elevated triglyceride levels despite being on statin therapy. The market, in its haste, took this surprise turn of events as a sign that the FDA may ultimately reject this all-important label expansion.
As the shock of this advisory committee news has slowly worn off, Amarin's shares have started to regain their footing. Amarin's stock, in fact, has gained a healthy 8.3% in just the past five trading sessions. Part of what's driving this rebound is a suite of analyst upgrades in the aftermath of this unexpected regulatory update. Roth Capital, for instance, recently reaffirmed its buy rating on Amarin's stock and upped its price target to $31 per share. Roth, in effect, believes that Amarin's shares could nearly double in value over the next 12 months.
Is Amarin worth the risk? While it's flat-out impossible to predict what the FDA will do in regards to Vascepa's proposed label expansion, the drug seems to have a better-than-average shot at getting a green light from regulators based on the publicly available data. Moreover, a rejection wouldn't necessarily halt the drug's red-hot commercial trajectory. Amarin, after all, already won the right to discuss Vascepa's clinical trial data with healthcare providers -- even for unapproved indications. Risk-tolerant investors, in kind, might want to buy into this rally soon.
A must-have healthcare stock
Keith Speights (Intuitive Surgical): I own quite a few healthcare stocks in my portfolio. My career has been spent primarily in healthcare. The industry continues to fascinate me. But out of all the healthcare stocks that I own, I'd say that the one I most consider as a must-have is Intuitive Surgical. I recently listed three stocks that I don't plan on ever selling. Intuitive Surgical was one of them.
The company pioneered the use of robotic-assisted surgery with its da Vinci system. Surgeons using robots to perform surgery used to be a novelty; now it's commonplace. And it's becoming more prevalent as technology advances to enable more types of surgical procedures to be performed with robotic assistance.
I am a huge fan of Intuitive's razor-and-blades business model. The company makes over 70% of its total revenue from recurring sources, including replacement instruments, accessories, and system leases. That percentage is almost guaranteed to climb as Intuitive's install base expands and as more customers transition to leasing systems.
Intuitive Surgical faces increasing competition. However, I still expect the company to increase its market share. The overall market should grow, for one thing. Long-term demographic trends will increase demand for the types of surgical procedures for which robotic surgery is ideally suited. Intuitive also isn't resting on its laurels and continues to innovate at a dizzying pace. My view is that the future looks brighter than ever for this great healthcare stock.
A better approach to healthcare
Todd Campbell (Teladoc): If we really want to move the needle on healthcare costs, we ought to embrace ways to increase healthcare supply, such as on-demand care provided by companies like Teladoc.
Today's approach to care is inefficient. Patients are expected to travel when sick to receive care in expensive to operate offices. Teladoc removes the burden of waiting in offices and reduces the burden of sky-high costs by providing access to doctors from the comfort of home.
Using the internet, patients connect directly with medical professionals online and because of its cost advantage, increasingly more self-employed businesses and health insurers are embracing it. In Q2, Teladoc conducted 908,000 visits, up 70% year over year, and as a result, reported revenue of $130 million, up 38% from the same period last year.
As the company expands to address more indications and more patients win access to its services, the company's sales should continue climbing. Americans visit doctors nearly 1 billion times per year, so Teladoc's current market share only scratches the surface of its addressable opportunity.