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4 Healthcare Stocks That Popped More Than 100% in 2018

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The healthcare sector performed quite well in 2018, led by gains in sub-sectors such as Medical Devices, Health Insurance, Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Pharmaceuticals, partly offset by decline in Biomedical and Genetics, Home Healthcare market, Medical and Dental Supplies. Rising demand for services and products for this sector aided growth in 2018 and will continue doing so with aging U.S population and increased prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases.

The sector also gained from the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based applications along with medical mechatronics and big-data applications. Increased M&A activity, an accelerated pace of innovation, promising drug launches, growing importance of biosimilars, cost-cutting efforts, expanding insurance coverage, growing middle class, insatiable demand for new drugs and ever-increasing healthcare spending remained some the main driving forces in 2018 and will continue to fuel the sector.

Players in the sector have gained in scale, size and business diversification from mergers and acquisitions, which help in driving revenues. The sector, which has always been high on mergers and acquisitions, saw a number of deals in 2018, which further consolidated the space. Some of the big ticket deals that were completed were the acquisition of Aetna by CVS Health, Bayer’s $63 billion buyout of Monsanto, Sanofi’s multi-billion dollar buyouts of Ablynx and Bioverativ, among many others.  

Moreover, the healthcare sector is more defensive in nature compared to the other major S&P 500 sectors, which has helped it to stand tall despite a quite volatile year. Given its defensive nature (as demand for its products and services are to a large extent immune to the state of the economy, enabling players the earn revenues even in difficult times) the sector attracts investors. Despite concerns regarding the slowing down of the U.S. economy, this sector should do well in the year ahead.

The decline in tax rate further provided more cash in the hands of the already cash rich companies in the healthcare sector, which have been used for further business expansion, innovation and share buyback.   

Despite regulatory hurdles, increasing medical costs, growing expenditure of research and development, most of the companies have been able to maintain their profitability by cost-control measures and raising prices. Year to date, the healthcare sector has gained 17.24%, compared with a 5.5% decline for the S&P 500 index.

Below we mention four stocks that performed exceptionally well gaining more than 100% so far this year. Each of these stocks has a solid Zacks Rank.

Amedisys, Inc. (AMED - Free Report) , a provider of home health and hospice services throughout the United States, has a market cap of $4.12 billion and Growth Score of A.

Since the start of the year, the Zacks Rank #1 stock has skyrocketed 125.9% against the industry’s 9.8% decline.

Recently, the company announced a definitive agreement to acquire Compassionate Care Hospice, a national hospice care provider headquartered in Parsippany, NJ. The company is striving hard to improve quality of care as well as implement disease management programs catering to the needs of patients served by hospitals. The company also continues to benefit from the aging demographics of the U.S. population and the need for higher acuity patients to be taken care of in a home nursing environment.

Investors may also choose DexCom, Inc. (DXCM - Free Report) . The leading manufacturer of glucose monitoring systems (CGM) has a market cap of $10.97 billion. The stock also has a Growth Score of A.

Year to date, the Zacks Rank #1 stock has rallied 114.3% compared with the industry’s 11.6% rise.

In recent times, Dexcom announced the release of the CLARITY mobile app. The Dexcom CLARITY Diabetes Management Software is a cloud-based solution that simplifies CGM data reporting and facilitates secure sharing of data between physicians and patients. Additionally, the company recently announced an amendment to its license deal with Verily, the life sciences unit of Alphabet, which is expected to deliver its next-generation CGM platform by 2020 end.

STAAR Surgical Company (STAA - Free Report) is the developer, manufacturer and global distributor of products used by ophthalmologists and other eye care professionals to improve or correct vision in patients suffering from refractive conditions, cataracts and glaucoma.

Year to date, the Zacks Rank #1 stock has rallied 113% against the industry’s 7.7% decline.

Recently, the company has started the rollout of its Toric ICL lens in the United States. Based on the strong reception received by this product, the company sees a positive re-entry point for STAAR in the United States, the world’s second-largest market for refractive vision correction procedures. Also, outside the United States, the company’s multi-site EVO with Aspheric (EDOF) Optic clinical trial for presbyopia is ongoing, which should drive its growth.

Vericel Corp. (VCEL - Free Report) develops patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions.

Year to date, the Zacks Rank #1 stock has rallied 212% against the industry’s 22% decline.

The company is gaining from increased MACI demand and is planning to expand the MACI sales force to meet an expanded addressable market. Based on the strength of its performance year to date and continued momentum in MACI uptake, the company has raised our full-year 2018 revenue guidance.

In addition to the stocks discussed above, would you like to know about our 10 top tickers to buy and hold for the entirety of 2019?

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