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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Pfizer, UnitedHealth Group, Centene Corp, Cigna Corp and AMN Healthcare Services

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – March 26, 2021 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Pfizer Inc. (PFE - Free Report) , UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Free Report) , Centene Corporation (CNC - Free Report) , Cigna Corporation (CI - Free Report) and AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. (AMN - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Thursday’s Analyst Blog:

4 Stocks That Continue to Gain from Telehealth Offerings

The telehealth platform has been increasingly adopted worldwide as an effective tool to not only administer and receive the much-needed healthcare services but also to curb the COVID-19 virus spread. Stringent lockdowns and severe travel-related restrictions were observed due to the coronavirus outbreak, which was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in March 2020. This scenario led to telehealth services ranging from video consultations to remote patient monitoring as the only feasible option left for patients to seek medical help.

In fact, it was the pandemic, which made people realize the importance of remote healthcare services, who were previously reluctant to adopt them. Notably, it was the first time for several clinicians to resort to a virtual platform for addressing healthcare needs, thereby minimizing exposure to the virus. Telehealth has emerged as a convenient tool to offer medical care from the comfort of a patients’ home at lower rates.

With the U.S. being no exception to the above-mentioned trend, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has been pretty active in waiving reimbursement restrictions under Medicare. Before the pandemic, telehealth reimbursements would have been provided by Medicare under selected circumstances including patients residing in rural areas or where there is a dearth of healthcare resources. However, the onset of the pandemic compelled CMS to ease Medicare payment policies and enable reimbursement of telehealth visits covering a broader array of care.

As a matter of fact, the post-pandemic phase is likely to continue witnessing growing demand for telehealth services. Per MarketsandMarkets, the global telehealth market is expected to witness a CAGR of 37.7% over the 2020-2025 period.

Several factors can be attributed to the high demand, among which an aging U.S. population, shortage of physicians, enhanced telecommunications system, technological advancements and dire need for cost-effective treatment options are the most notable ones. Per a report published by the Statista Research Department, the percentage of people aged 65 or more have accounted for 16.5% of the total U.S. population in 2019, which is projected to reach 22% by 2050.

Also, escalating healthcare expenses across the United States have been sustaining the momentum for decades, with a similar trend likely to continue in the days ahead as well. The fact has been further substantiated by a study of CMS, per which national healthcare spending is anticipated to rise at an average rate of 5.5% over the 2018-2027 period with the metric likely to reach around $6.0 trillion by 2027.

Telehealth services have capitalized on such a scenario by offering the much-needed hassle-free and affordable option to patients, while continuing to reduce costs and generate revenues for providers.

Various healthcare providers have developed vaccines to fight the COVID-19 virus, with the Pfizer-BioNTech one, the Moderna one and the recent COVID-19 vaccine of Johnson & Johnson getting the Federal regulators’ approval. However, the massive vaccination drive across the United States is unlikely to lessen the wide-scale adoption of telehealth services by Americans. Innumerable health woes induced by the COVID-19 pandemic have been plaguing the nation and new variants of the virus have been adding to the woes.

With a spike in coronavirus cases, remote connection of doctors with patients will continue to be the safer option for Americans. Usage of web-based or cloud-based applications will result in smooth integration of telehealth into existing clinical workflows and systems, thus improving provider and patient experience. Also, there needs to be enhanced reimbursement policies in place for telehealth visits, which is expected to provide a boost to the growing popularity of virtual platforms over the long term.

4 Top Stocks to Watch

These four Zacks #3 (Hold) Ranked stocks mentioned below have been offering telehealth services and remain well-poised to gain amid the growing popularity of remote services. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

UnitedHealth Groupis making concerted efforts for bolstering its telehealth services suite ranging from collaborating with well-known companies, launching teledentistry services to inaugurating a digital health therapy with an aim to bring about improved health outcomes for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Recently, the launch of new virtual care model Right2You by UnitedHealthcare aims to provide its members with an online service for custom-programed hearing aids.

For 2021, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s revenues and earnings are pegged at 8.3% and 7.8% year-over-year growth, respectively.

Centene Corp. has been making every effort to offer telehealth offerings across every corner of the United States including the underserved ones. For this purpose, it collaborated with Samsung Electronics America last year. With digitization an integral part of daily lives, the company has acquired Apixio for availing enhanced AI technology solutions and digitizing its administrative activities.

For 2021, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s revenues and earnings are pegged at 6.2% and 3.8% year-over-year growth, respectively.

Cigna Corp. is well-poised to tap the growing telehealth market on its buyout of MDLIVE, a privately-held leading 24/7 virtual care delivery platform. This move by the company seems to be time opportune as people’s inclination toward using telehealth means are likely to continue even after the pandemic ends.

For 2021, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s revenues and earnings are pegged at 3.5% and 9.9% year-over-year growth, respectively.

AMN Healthcare Services has launched a telehealth platform named AMN Cares, which helps care teams to interface with employees or patients at home.  Its acquisition of Stratus Video has enabled the AMN Language Services unit to offer healthcare interpretation services through proprietary technology platforms.

For 2021, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s revenues and earnings are pegged at 17.1% and 21.6% year-over-year growth, respectively.

Zacks Names “Single Best Pick to Double”

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