During last week’s debate, the Donald Trump dropped a doozy pertaining to the stock market when he said it’s in a “big, fat, ugly bubble.”
We’ll know if it’s a bubble if and when it pops, but we know this much now: stocks have been at historic highs for some time. The S&P 500 Index set a record high last month of 2190.15 and has held close to that point since. And the index’s new record is 41% beyond pre-recession peak of 1549.38, set in October of 2007.
With stocks booming barely a month before election day, the $64,000 question: Which sectors can we expect to do well in the event of a Trump victory in just over a month?
The biggest and clearest winner in the event of a Trump win will be the healthcare sector, says Jay Gyrta, a Portfolio Manager at Einbender Capital.
“If [Democratic presidential candidate Hillary] Clinton wins, she’s not really going to touch healthcare,” he said.
Not touching an industry that’s struggled since the passing of the Affordable Care Act probably doesn’t bode well for investors in the sector. A recent study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that healthcare spending since the law passed in 2010 has fallen short of expectations—$2.9 trillion short.
Sluggish growth in the industry has had some consequences that could spell uncertainty for the law’s ongoing viability.
As of March, the ACA was responsible for insuring about 20 million people, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NASDAQ’s IXHC index, which tracks healthcare stocks, has been volatile since the ACA went into effect. The index rose consistently since early 2012, at one point in the summer of 2015 outperforming the S&P 500 by a factor of three to one.
But the program hasn’t proved it can allow insurers to make a profit. McKinsey and Co, a health management consulting firm, said that last year, 70 percent of insurers lost money by selling insurance the the law.
Share prices started to catch onto that reality by midsummer 2015, when the IXHC took a dive in which its stocks went from bringing their investors a 229.78% return, down to just 125.03% by February of this year.
Healthcare hare prices have stabilized, but when the folks who pay all the other folks across the whole industry (insurers) aren’t making money, it’s fair to wonder weather trouble looms.
In what could be among the first signs of serious trouble for the future of the legislation, this August Aetna said it would stop selling insurance through exchanges mandated by the law in most states. The health insurance giant with a $40 billion market capitalization is the third major insurer this year to opt out of some of the exchanges, joining UnitedHealth Group and Humana.
In the short term, moves like Aetna’s haven’t resulted in big moves in stock prices. The company’s stock gained a modest 1.6% in the three days following the August announcement, peaking at $121.04, and dropping only slightly since.
Big moves also largely eluded the IXHC since Aetna’s pullout. Since then, it’s held fairly steady since Aetna announced its pullout from the exchanges and has been largely free of big one-day jolts in recent quarters. The index lost less than one percent of its value since August 15th, when Aetna made its announcement.
So why can we expect healthcare stocks to do better under Trump? There’s one big reason.
Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act—widely regarded as President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, as well as a proven barrier to profits in many corners of the healthcare industry.
Sound far-fetched? Consider that 247 Congressional seats out of a total of 435 are held by Republicans—that’s the largest majority the party has held since 1928. Suddenly, Trump’s chances of successfully overturning the law don’t look too bad if he wins next month.
And while most polls show Clinton leading by several percentage points, a poll released Sunday by Bloomberg had Trump and Clinton in a dead heat, and another by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California had Clinton trailing by five percentage points.
Investors aren’t just looking to the potential upside that could go with a Trump victory.
Recent bad press directed at the industry will likely mean that a Clinton victory could result in some clamping down early in a Clinton administration, Gyrta said.
“Some of the biotech companies have a lot of attention on them, like Mylan after it increased the price of EpiPen,” he said. “I think under Clinton the real expensive drugs may get more heavily regulated, especially during her first 100 days in office. She’s going to want to come in making a statement.”