Health Funds That Can Survive Obamacare

10/08/2009 11:00 am EST

Focus: FUNDS

Jim Lowell

Senior Partner & Chief Investment Strategist, Adviser Investments

Jim Lowell, editor-in-chief of Fidelity Investor, finds three Fidelity health care funds he thinks can thrive no matter what happens in Washington, DC.

So far this year, despite the rhetorical hype of the toll that Obamacare could take on health care stocks, Fidelity Select Healthcare (FSPHX) is up 24.2% vs. 19.3% for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index. Health care remains a reliable cure for overall market volatility with organic and strategic upside growth potential. Since 2000, Select Healthcare has delivered a total return of 38.8% vs. -14.4% for the S&P 500.

Of course, health care (representing nearly 16% of our total GDP) is unlike any other sector in the S&P. It is so diversified and global, so interrelated to technology, manufacturing, and R&D, so dependent upon delivering real goods and services for consumer consumption, that it is almost an economy unto itself.

Manager Eddie Yoon invests in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical equipment and systems, and HMOs. Investors looking for a one-stop health care shop should pick this option: Diversification is a good Rx for risk.

The trumped-up political crisis that has engendered a rush to “cure” our health care system has done little to dent the fundamental reasons (from earnings growth, demographics, and innovation) for keeping a core holding in health care.

Foreign stocks make up 13% of the holdings, but the companies that aren’t listed as foreign stocks derive increasingly greater amounts of revenue from the burgeoning global marketplace. Yoon’s top ten holdings [include] Covidien (NYSE: COV), Allergan (NYSE: AGN), Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX), and Baxter International (NYSE: BAX).

Manager Andrew Oh [of] Fidelity Select Pharmaceuticals (FPHAX) invests in companies involved in the production and distribution of pharmaceuticals and drugs. Drugs are the least invasive, most cost-effective way to treat all ages of the overall life stages of every population. Foreign investments make up 9.6% of the holdings. The top ten holdings [include] Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), and Merck (NYSE: MRK).

Manager Rajiv Kaul managed Fidelity Select Biotechnology (FBIOX) a decade ago, took a five-year hiatus, and resumed management at the end of 2005.

Kaul is focused on companies that stand to benefit most from the present demographic reality of aging boomers and the future promise of less invasive ways to treat this and the broader (domestic and global) population through smarter smart drugs.

Since he’s been running this narrowly defined fund, he has delivered 12.1% vs. the Dow Jones Biotechnology index return of 13.9%. Despite these numbers, this is an area [of] the market [to which] members should have exposure, with the known caveat that it’s more a bet on the sector than the manager.

Direct foreign investments make up a mere 1.5% of this sector fund’s holdings; the investable biotechnology marketplace is nascent here and nearly non-existent elsewhere. Kaul’s top ten holdings [include] Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN), Gilead Sciences (Nasdaq: GILD), Alexion Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ALXN), [and] Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB).

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