Healthcare has lagged the broad market YTD even though the stocks are resisting economic cross-currents extremely well. Here's a refresher course on exactly why each of these companies continues to attract our attention.
The end of another quarterly confession season (earnings season) gives us an occasion to anoint a winner for the cycle. There were some huge individual winners throughout the BMR universe. And since our High Yield and REIT recommendations are selected to deliver consistent returns, they simply continued on their slower-but-steadier pace.
But our Healthcare stocks all gained ground after reporting their 4Q18 numbers, giving us a collective 13% since the season started. Compare that to the broad market's 8% gain and barely 4% for the Healthcare sector at large, and it's clear that we have made the right choices.
It's doubly ironic because Healthcare has been the weakest sector in the overall market YTD even though its growth prospects are stronger than just about everything else. We're looking for 4% earnings expansion for 1Q19 and a full 13% better revenue than what the sector was able to generate a year ago. Only the boring Utilities can match that positive profit trend. Nothing else even comes close in a season when the S&P 500 is staring at a 3% earnings contraction and at best 5% revenue growth.
Those fundamentals suggest that if there's any heat in the market as a whole next earnings season, a lot of it will be concentrated in Healthcare. After all, would you rather capture 4% earnings growth or a 3% earnings decline?
Of course we didn't just pick the five fastest-growing Healthcare companies and sit back on our laurels. Any robot could do that and that's not the way to build a truly robust portfolio. After all, growth is already factored into these stocks. Our expertise revolves around finding the right companies to play a specific role in our overall investment framework. If we can recommend them at the right price and the right time, it's even better.
AstraZeneca (AZN: $42, flat this week) is a simple earnings story. The company's profit faltered a year ago, making the comparisons extremely easy now that the business is recovering. We're looking for 70% year-over-year earnings growth this quarter in the face of 6% better revenue. While that trend isn't going to last forever, the odds are extremely good that AstraZeneca will deliver more dynamic results to the bottom line than its Big Pharma peers for months to come. Our $42 Target is in sight. Look for a raise soon.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY: $50, down 5%). We're looking for 10% revenue growth turning into 11% richer earnings this quarter, which is extraordinary compared to what we've been warned to expect from the S&P 500 as a whole. That growth curve looks poised to continue for the foreseeable future, especially when you factor in the pending acquisition of Biotech behemoth Celgene (CELG). This one makes our list for its "diamond in the rough" appeal. After the merger, when Wall Street takes a fresh look at the company, we suspect it will make shareholders happy.
Exact Sciences (EXAS: $94, up 1%) is all about the long-term power of disruptive medical technology, in this case the increasingly famous mail-in Colon Cancer screening kit. Even though the company is a few years from profitability, revenue is soaring. Our math gives us a high level of confidence that sales in the current quarter (1Q19) are tracking 70% above last year and will continue on roughly that path for much time to come. Growth at that rate is extraordinary. The market appreciates that. The stock is up 12% since its earnings report three weeks ago and we've already had to raise our Target to $105. That's why we're here.
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ: $139, up 1%) is up a strong 6% since earnings, and that steadier trajectory is what attracted us to it the giant in the first place. In a season where earnings across the market are going down, Johnson & Johnson offers us a continued trickle of growth. Even if it's only 3%, we'll take it. This one keeps ticking no matter what's going on in the global economy. If you want a long-term juggernaut, look no farther.
Eli Lilly (LLY: $124, down 3%) looks a little less exciting on paper, with a mere 2% in growth on both the top and bottom line to look forward to in the current quarter if our predictions are on the mark. The legacy business is somewhere between stagnant and mature. What draws our attention is the way the next generation of world-changing drugs is moving through Eli Lilly's development pipe even as we speak. Just yesterday the company reported a leap forward in Lung Cancer with good results from a recently concluded Phase 3 clinical trial. Now it's up to the FDA for approval. In that scenario, management can add billions of dollars to future sales and shareholders can look forward to years of enhanced growth that currently isn't factored into our math. Our $120 Target is receding in the rear view already. Let's see how long it takes Eli Lilly to reach $145. Raise your Sell Price to $110 as well.