This has been a year that Wall Street and investors won't soon forget. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has exacted an incredible physical and financial toll on this country, with more than 163,000 Americans losing their lives, over 20 million people (at one time) losing their jobs, and short-term traders losing their sanity among the record-breaking volatility in equities.
But let's not forget that it's also an election year. In just 83 days, Americans across the country will head to their local voting booths or mail in their ballots to determine who'll lead this country for the next four years.
Though there's still a lot that could happen over the next 11 weeks, history certainly appears to be on Donald Trump's side. Over the past 120 years, a sitting president running for a second term has only lost on three occasions (Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush). (Note, I'm not counting Gerald Ford because he was never "elected" as president the first time.)
Should Republican Donald Trump defy the polls, once again, and earn enough votes to remain president for a second term, investors would be wise to consider buying the following three stocks.
If President Trump wins the upcoming election, we're liable to see a significant rally in healthcare stocks, which will benefit from the status quo. One of the names I expect will benefit notably is rare-disease drug developer Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN).
For more than a decade, sitting presidents have harped on the high cost of brand-name drugs but have offered next to nothing with regard to legislation to resolve this issue. That's probably going to continue for another four years if Trump is president.
Even though President Trump signed a number of executive orders on drug pricing just a few weeks ago that would allow for the importation of certain drugs from Canada and require pharmacy-benefit managers to alter how they pass along discounts to Medicare patients, the consensus is that these orders have no teeth. They're either going to take a while to implement or won't be adhered to at all.
In other words, brand-name drug-pricing power should remain hearty for the foreseeable future. That's good news for Alexion, which has developed some of the most expensive therapies in the world. In all fairness, Alexion targets a handful of ultra-rare indications with its therapies, so it's merely trying to recoup its development costs, as well as the expenses tied to failed clinical trials.
Also big for Alexion was the development of Ultomiris, a next-generation therapy designed to replace its blockbuster drug Soliris. Ultomiris only needs to be administered every eight weeks, as opposed to every two weeks with Soliris. Even with an annual maintenance cost of approximately $458,000, this wider gap in dosing creates a 33% annual expense discount, relative to Soliris, for patients with atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome, as noted by Alexion.
Long story short, we're talking about a company with little-to-no competition and protected cash flow that's unlikely to face any real pricing pressure from the federal government with Trump in charge.
There's a pretty good chance that a Trump victory would also have health insurance company executives dancing in their offices (behind closed doors, of course). I think Anthem (NYSE:ANTM) would be a prime beneficiary.
Since beginning his initial campaign for president in 2015, Donald Trump has derided former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act (ACA) and sworn that the U.S. will never implement a universal healthcare plan (i.e., Medicare for All). This not-so-subtle code suggests that for-profit health-benefit providers will retain significant pricing power on plan premiums and may see additional restrictions that were tied to the ACA rolled back over time.
While it's unlikely that insurers will ever be able to turn away people with preexisting conditions, as in the days prior to the ACA, it's not out of the question that less-strict plans could be offered/allowed to enroll more members (e.g., the broad-based reintroduction of catastrophic plans).
Anthem has absolutely thrived under the Trump presidency, with its annual earnings per share doubling in a three-year stretch. As Trump has pared back whatever ACA requirements he can without Congressional approval, the company's benefit expense ratio has declined from 87.2% (anything below 100% is profitable) in full-year 2016 to 81.1% through the first six months of 2020. This simply means Anthem is operating more efficiently with Trump in charge and some ACA restrictions eased. Look for this to continue if Trump wins in November.
It's not just healthcare stocks that'll receive a boost from another four years of Trump in the Oval Office. Even though oil stocks have been pummeled by the COVID-19 pandemic, integrated oil and gas giant ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) should be a big-time rebound candidate if Trump earns a second term.
The Trump administration has loosened or removed a number of environmental protections that were put in place during the Obama administration. The oil and gas industry is one of the direct beneficiaries of these Environmental Protection Agency regulation rollbacks.
Furthermore, President Trump has pledged to help the oil industry work its way back from the biggest demand slump in decades. It's unclear how the president would aid the highly indebted industry, but there's little question that oil and gas companies have been among his biggest supporters.
In particular, the ongoing shale shakeout in the U.S. could be a boon for ExxonMobil. This is a company that reduced its 2020 full-year operating expenses by $10 billion to $23 billion and has the tools to further cut costs to preserve its better than 8% dividend yield.
What's more, it's not as if fossil fuels are going away anytime soon. Even with a steady shift toward renewable energy, Trump's tariffs on imported solar cells and modules have weakened demand for U.S. solar deployment. This is yet another feather in the cap for ExxonMobil, and suggests a possible revival for Big Oil during a Trump second term.