Back in August, I had written an article highlighting the pharmaceutical supply chain cohort, presenting the case that these stocks were inexpensive in a very frothy market. Specifically, I profiled McKesson (MCK), Cardinal Health (CAH), CVS Health (CVS) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and made the case that these stocks presented compelling value investments as all were near multi-year lows. The four companies above have healthy balance sheets and growing dividends while seizing partnerships and acquisitions to propel growth into the future. It’s no secret that these companies have been faced with several headwinds that have negatively impacted the growth and the changing marketplace conditions have plagued these stocks. The political backdrop has been a major headwind for the entire pharmaceutical supply chain (i.e., drug manufacturers, pharmaceutical wholesalers, and pharmacies/pharmacy benefit managers). Exacerbating the political climate, the drug pricing debate continues to rage on throughout political and social media circles weighing on the overarching sector. This backdrop erodes pricing power and margins of drugs that ultimately move from drug manufacturers to patients with insurers and other middlemen playing roles in the supply chain web. In an effort to address these headwinds and restore growth, companies within this cohort have made bold moves such as CVS acquiring Aetna (AET) to form a colossus bumper-to-bumper healthcare company and Cardinal Health shelling out $6.1 billion to acquire Medtronic's Patient Care, Deep Vein Thrombosis and Nutritional Insufficiency business. The overall cohort has been making bold acquisitions, heeding the competitive threats from the likes of Amazon (AMZN), possess great balance sheets, growing dividends, share buyback programs and more often than not posting growth albeit slower growth. These stocks presented value that provided a margin of safety that were largely de-risked considering the multi-year lows. Relative to the frothy market, these stocks were very inexpensive and witnessed a nice resurgence since proposing these stocks as value plays. CVS and Walgreens have retraced their 52-week highs as of late moving from their August lows and posting a 25% ($64 to $80) and 24% ($66 to $82), respectively. Specifically, I’ll be highlighting CVS Health as a continued value play for a long-term investment.
CVS and Aetna Combination
To further boost long-term growth prospects and fend off potential competition, CVS made a move to acquire Aetna and creates the first through-in-through healthcare company, combining CVS's pharmacies and PBM platform with Aetna's insurance business. Collectively, the acquisition is valued at $78 billion between stock and cash. This new CVS will combine its existing pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) and retail pharmacies with the second largest diversified healthcare company. This is a bold and hefty price tag to pay yet may be necessary to compete in the increasingly competitive healthcare space in the face of drug pricing pressures. CVS is making a defensive yet necessary acquisition moving into the future. Continue reading "CVS: Successfully Fighting Back to 52-Week Highs"