With a few exceptions, healthcare stocks have had a rough go of it in 2023. The Standards and Practices (S&P) 500 Healthcare Index is down 5% year to date, versus a 13% increase in the benchmark S&P 500 index. Most healthcare stocks are down across the board. Pharma companies, health insurers and medical device manufacturers have all seen their share prices decline. That said, there are a few stocks that have managed to separate themselves from the pack with new innovations and strong financial results. Some of these stocks have recorded hefty gains this year, while others are just beginning to turnaround. For investors, there remains an opportunity to profit from healthcare stocks—if they know where to look. Here are three healthcare stocks to invest in for a big shot of gains.
Novo Nordisk (NVO)
Novo Nordisk (NYSE:NVO) has been one of the few bright spots among pharmaceutical stocks this year. The Danish company has seen its share price skyrocket with the approval and sale of its weight loss medications Ozempic and Wegovy in the United States and elsewhere around the world. NVO stock has risen 43% this year, is up 87% throughout the last 12 months, and has gained 354% across five years. In early September, Novo Nordisk became Europe’s most valuable publicly traded company as its stock hit an all-time high.
The stock has been trending higher on growing demand for the company’s weight-loss drugs. Analysts polled by FactSet expect Novo Nordisk to report third-quarter Ozempic sales of $3.32 billion and Wegovy sales of $1.07 billion. The company is scheduled to issue its Q3 print Nov. 2. Novo Nordisk recently raised its sales and operating profit outlooks due to overwhelming demand for Ozempic and Wegovy. While NVO stock has enjoyed a big run, analysts forecast more growth ahead. The median price target on the stock is 10% higher than current levels.
Another healthcare company that is on the upswing is medical device manufacturer Medtronic (NYSE:MDT). At the end of August, Medtronic lifted its annual profit forecast after posting better-than-expected financial results. The company said its strong earnings and improving outlook are due to growing demand for its medical devices, particularly those used in heart and gastrointestinal surgeries. Sales at its heart devices unit, its biggest revenue driver, increased 5.5% in the latest quarter to $2.85 billion, beating analysts’ forecasts.
Medtronic’s quarterly revenue rose 4.5% to $7.70 billion and besting Wall Street consensus estimates of $7.57 billion. Earnings per share (EPS) came in at $1.20, which was better than the $1.11 forecast by analysts who track the company’s progress. Looking ahead, Medtronic said it expects its full-year profit to be between $5.08 and $5.16 a share, up from a previous range of $5 to $5.10. Analysts were expecting a full-year profit of $5.05 per share.
MDT stock is down 7% year to date. The shares are trading at 26 times future earnings and provide stockholders with a quarterly dividend of 69 cents per share for a yield of 3.81%. Buy the dip.
Now for a beaten down healthcare stock to buy on the cheap. That would be biopharmaceutical company Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA). A darling of the pandemic market boom, whose share price rose more than 2,000% between March 2020 and September 2021, the company’s stock has since fallen on hard times as demand for its Covid-19 vaccine wanes. Since hitting its all-time high in 2021, MRNA stock has fallen 82%, including a 54% pullback this year.
The latest blow to Moderna’s stock came in mid-September when the company announced that it is scaling back manufacturing of its Covid-19 vaccine to better align its production with lower demand. The reduced production was announced only a few days after U.S. regulators approved the company’s Covid-19 vaccine that has been updated for this year’s cold and flu season. Moderna forecasts that U.S. demand for the vaccine will be between 50 and 100 million doses this winter, down from 153.8 million shots administered in 2022.
Despite these disappointments, there are some positive signs emerging for Moderna. The company recently completed a regulatory submission for a new vaccine against both Covid-19 and influenza (seasonal flu). Despite its decline througout the last two years, MRNA stock is still up 345% across five years.
On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.