The recently released August jobs report signaled a cooling down of the robust U.S. job market. With the strong job growth since last year acting as an Achilles heel for the Fed, the benchmark interest rate was raised several times to control inflation.
Although nonfarm payrolls beat estimates of 170,000 to arrive at 187,000 in August, the unemployment rate was 3.8%, rising sequentially to the highest since February 2022. Moreover, the real unemployment rate peaked at 7.1%, increasing by 0.4% and marking the highest since May 2022. Furthermore, the nonfarm payrolls for June and July were revised considerably downward.
The healthcare sector showed the most significant job gain, adding 71,000 jobs. The latest Job Opening and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report released last week showed that job openings fell to their lowest since March 2021, indicating softness in the labor market. The JOLTS report showed that there were 8.82 million jobs open at the end of July, a decline from the 9.16 million job openings in June.
Wells Fargo Economics senior economist Sarah House said, “Job openings per unemployed person remain above pre-pandemic levels, but this indicator is clearly on a downward trajectory amid cooling labor demand growth and impressive labor supply growth. A normalizing quit rate suggests that the fight over workers is subsiding, at least at the aggregate level.”
The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revealed that the real gross domestic product (GDP) rose at an annual rate of 2.1% in the second quarter. The latest estimate was lower than the initial advance estimate of a 2.4% growth.
Wells Fargo economist Shannon Seery said, “Overall, there were not any major revisions to the underlying GDP components compared to the first estimate of output, and today’s data do not materially change our overall view of the economy. Incoming data for Q3 show an economy that has continued to expand but with signs of some moderation. We continue to expect the economy to gradually slow during the second half of the year.”
Amid the rise in unemployment and an expected economic slowdown during the second half of the year, investors could consider investing in the healthcare sector as it is relatively stable compared to other sectors. The sector's inelastic demand enables companies in this space to maintain their profit margins irrespective of economic cycles.
Considering these factors, fundamentally strong healthcare stocks Eli Lilly and Company (LLY), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), and Amgen Inc. (AMGN) could be solid portfolio additions now.
Let’s discuss the fundamentals of these stocks.
LLY discovers, develops, and markets human pharmaceuticals worldwide. It offers Basaglar, Humalog, Humalog Mix 75/25, Humalog U-200, Humalog Mix 50/50, insulin Iispro, insulin Iispro protamine, insulin Iispro mix 75/25, Humulin, Humulin 70/30, Humulin N, Humulin R, and Humulin U-500 for diabetes; and Jardiance, Trajenta, and Trulicity for type 2 diabetes.
On August 14, 2023, LLY announced the acquisition of Versanis Bio. The acquisition will expand LLY’s portfolio to include Versanis’ lead asset, bimagrumab, which is undergoing a Phase 2b study alone and in combination with semaglutide in adults living with overweight or obesity.
Ruth Gimeno, Ph.D., group vice president diabetes, obesity, and cardiometabolic research at LLY, said, “Combining our current incretin portfolio, including tirzepatide, with activin receptor blockers such as bimagrumab, could be the next major step in innovative treatments for those living with cardiometabolic diseases, like obesity.”
“The wealth of knowledge that our new colleagues from Versanis will bring to Lilly will propel our research and development efforts forward, ultimately benefiting patients around the world,” she added.
In terms of the trailing-12-month EBITDA margin, LLY’s 33.08% is 532.9% higher than the 5.23% industry average. Likewise, its 17.13% trailing-12-month levered FCF margin is significantly higher than the industry average of 0.22%. Furthermore, its 8.55% trailing-12-month Capex/Sales is 89.4% higher than the 4.52% industry average.
LLY’s revenue for the second quarter ended June 30, 2023, increased 28% year-over-year to $8.31 billion. The company’s non-GAAP gross margin increased 28% year-over-year to $6.63 billion. Its non-GAAP net income rose 68.3% over the prior-year quarter to $1.90 billion. Also, its non-GAAP EPS came in at $2.11, representing an increase of 68.8% year-over-year.
Analysts expect LLY’s EPS and revenue to increase 47% and 27.1% year-over-year to $2.91 and $8.82 billion, respectively. It surpassed the consensus EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters. Over the past year, the stock has gained 80.2%.
JNJ researches, develops, manufactures, and sells various products in the healthcare field worldwide. It operates under three segments: Consumer Health, Pharmaceutical, and MedTech.
On August 10, 2023, JNJ’s The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies announced that the U.S. FDA had granted accelerated approval of TALVEY (talquetamab-tgvs), a first-in-class bispecific antibody for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least four prior lines of therapy, including a proteasome inhibitor, an immunomodulatory agent, and an anti-CD38 antibody.
In terms of trailing-12-month gross profit margin, JNJ’s 67.50% is 21.7% higher than the 55.44% industry average. Likewise, its 0.53x trailing-12-month asset turnover ratio is 41.1% higher than the industry average of 0.38x. Furthermore, the stock’s 21.99% trailing-12-month levered FCF margin is significantly higher than the 0.22% industry average.
For the second quarter ended June 30, 2023, JNJ’s reported sales rose 6.3% year-over-year to $25.53 billion. Its gross profit rose 7.6% year-over-year to $17.32 billion. The company’s adjusted net earnings increased 6.5% over the prior-year quarter to $7.36 billion. In addition, its adjusted EPS came in at $2.80, representing an increase of 8.1% year-over-year.
Street expects JNJ’s EPS for the quarter ending December 31, 2023, to increase 8.6% year-over-year to $2.55. Its fiscal 2024 revenue is expected to increase 3.8% year-over-year to $87.79 billion. It surpassed the Street EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. Over the past six months, the stock has gained 5.2%.
MRK is a global healthcare company that offers solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and animal health products. The company operates in the Pharmaceutical and Animal Health segments.
On June 16, 2023, MRK announced the completion of the acquisition of Prometheus Biosciences (RXDX). MRK’s Chairman and CEO Robert M. Davis said, “The Prometheus acquisition accelerates our growing presence in immunology, augments our diverse pipeline, and increases our ability to deliver patient value. This transaction is another example of Merck acting strategically and decisively when science and value align.”
In terms of trailing-12-month gross profit margin, MRK’s 73.22% is 32.1% higher than the 55.44% industry average. Likewise, the stock’s 7.28% trailing-12-month Capex/Sales is 61.3% higher than the 4.52% industry average. Furthermore, its 0.55x trailing-12-month asset turnover ratio is 46.9% higher than the industry average of 0.38x.
MRK’s sales for the second quarter ended June 30, 2023, increased 3% year-over-year to $15.04 billion. Its non-GAAP net loss that excludes certain items came in at $5.22 billion, compared to a non-GAAP net income of $4.74 billion in the year-ago quarter. Also, its non-GAAP loss per share came in at $2.06, compared to a non-GAAP EPS of $1.87 in the prior-year quarter.
For the quarter ending September 30, 2023, MRK’s EPS and revenue are expected to increase 4.7% and 1.8% year-over-year to $1.94 and $15.22 billion, respectively. It surpassed the consensus EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. Over the past year, the stock has gained 26%.
PFE discovers, develops, manufactures, markets, distributes, and sells biopharmaceutical products worldwide. It offers medicines and vaccines in various therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular metabolic and women's health, biosimilars, sterile injectable and anti-infective medicines, and oral COVID-19 treatment.
On August 21, 2023, PFE announced that the U.S. FDA approved ABRYSVO (Respiratory Syncytial Virus Vaccine), its bivalent RSV prefusion F (RSVpreF) vaccine, for the prevention of LRTD and severe LRTD caused by RSV in infants from birth up to six months of age by active immunization of pregnant individuals at 32 through 36 weeks gestational age.
PFE’s 32.53% trailing-12-month EBIT margin is significantly higher than the 0.15% industry average. Its 69.82% trailing-12-month gross profit margin is 25.9% higher than the industry average of 55.44%. Furthermore, the stock’s 15.85% trailing-12-month levered FCF margin is considerably higher than the industry average of 0.22%.
PFE’s revenues for the second quarter ended June 30, 2023, declined 54% year-over-year to $12.73 billion. The company’s adjusted income decreased 67.1% year-over-year to $3.84 billion. Its adjusted EPS came in at $0.67, representing a decline of 67.2% over the prior-year quarter.
PFE’s EPS and revenue for fiscal 2024 are expected to increase 3.9% and 0.1% year-over-year to $3.43 and $66.54 billion, respectively. It has an impressive earnings surprise history, surpassing its consensus EPS estimates in each of the trailing four quarters. Over the past month, the stock has gained 0.5%.
AMGN discovers, develops, manufactures, and delivers human therapeutics worldwide. It focuses on inflammation, oncology/hematology, bone health, cardiovascular disease, nephrology, and neuroscience.
On September 1, 2023, AMGN and Horizon Therapeutics Public Limited Company (HZNP) announced the entry into a consent order agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), helping resolve the pending FTC administrative lawsuit. This effectively clears AMGN’s path to close the acquisition of HZNP.
With the consent order agreement, AMGN and HZNP expect that the parties will jointly file stipulated proposed orders to dismiss the preliminary injunction motion and dissolve the temporary restraining order in the U.S. District Court for the North District of Illinois. Both companies will seek the final approvals required under Irish law to close the acquisition.
In terms of the trailing-12-month gross profit margin, AMGN’s 74.29% is 34% higher than the 55.44% industry average. Likewise, its 37.82% trailing-12-month levered FCF margin is significantly higher than the industry average of 0.22%. Furthermore, its 51.78% trailing-12-month EBITDA margin is 890.5% higher than the 5.23% industry average.
For the fiscal second quarter ended June 30, 2023, AMGN’s total revenues increased 5.9% year-over-year to $6.99 billion. Its non-GAAP operating income rose 5.4% over the prior-year quarter to $3.52 billion. The company’s non-GAAP net income increased 7.5% year-over-year to $2.68 billion. Also, its non-GAAP EPS came in at $5, representing an increase of 7.5% year-over-year.
Street expects AMGN’s revenue for the quarter ending September 30, 2023, to increase 4% year-over-year to $6.92 billion. Its EPS for the quarter ending December 31, 2023, is expected to increase 15% year-over-year to $4.70. It surpassed the Street EPS estimates in three of the trailing four quarters. Over the past three months, the stock has gained 19.8%.