Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was the big winner from the group of Super Tuesday primaries, on track to secure victories in 10 states. But Biden wasn’t the only winner on Super Tuesday, as health care stocks are reacting positively to Biden’s surprisingly strong showing.
The stock market roared higher on Wednesday as investors cheered Biden’s victories and a strong 183,000 rise in U.S. private payrolls in February, ahead of consensus expectations of 155,000. The payroll numbers suggest businesses may not be as concerned about the coronavirus as feared.
Biden’s victory also may have removed some risk for the market. While analysts generally see President Donald Trump and Republican policies as best for business, many see Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders as the most risky candidate.
In January, DoubleLine CEO Jeffrey Gundlach said Sanders poses the single biggest risk to the U.S. stock market in 2020. Biden leapfrogged Sanders as the Democratic frontrunner on Tuesday, and health care stocks reacted most positively to the news.
Stephens analyst Scott Fidel said Biden’s big night is a bullish catalyst for health care.
“These developments in the Democratic primary could set the MCO and Hospital stocks up for a relief rally as the market likely prices in reduced risk of Bernie winning the Democratic nomination.” Fidel said.
Bank of America analyst Kevin Fischbeck said Biden’s moderate health care policy positions are just what the sector needs.
“As a moderate Democratic candidate, he has said that he would build on the ACA to expand coverage through his ‘public option’ form of coverage, which would offset any negatives from higher taxes. Sanders’ Medicare-for-All proposal contains provisions that would eliminate for-profit hospitals by cutting rates for providers, as well as disintermediate MCOs,” Fischbeck said.
Fishbeck noted its unlikely any Democrat that wins the White House would be able to implement any version of major health care reform unless Democrats take control of the Senate as well, an outcome that's extremely unlikely.
For now, Sanders’ stumble has been enough to trigger a relief rally for some top health care stocks. Here are some of Wednesday's top movers:
- UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH) was up 10.4%.
- Humana Inc (NYSE: HUM) was up 8.9%.
- Anthem Inc (NYSE: ANTM) was up 9.7%.
- Cigna Corp (NYSE: CI) was up 8.8%.
- Centene Corp (NYSE: CNC) was up 10.2%.
- CVS Health Corp (NYSE: CVS) was up 5.8%.
- Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD) was up 4.1%.
- Tenet Healthcare Corp (NYSE: THC) was up 6.3%.
- Community Health Systems (NYSE: CYH) was up 5.2%.
Biden and the Democrats still have a steep hill to climb to implement any significant change to the health care system given Republicans will likely maintain control of the Senate in 2020. Following the Super Tuesday results, Biden now has a 73% chance of securing the Democratic nomination, but Republicans have a 56% chance of winning the election, according to PredictIt.
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