Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The S&P index of top health care companies finished Monday higher than where it opened the year.

The big picture: A global coronavirus pandemic, social unrest, mass unemployment, and the halting of medical procedures hasn't been enough to derail Wall Street's rosy view of the health care industry.

Where things stand: The coronavirus started to affect the economy toward the tail end of the first quarter, but the health care industry was relatively unscathed.

  • Among the 109 publicly traded health care companies tracked by Axios, first-quarter profits exceeded $50 billion, good for a 7.4% net profit margin.
  • Pharmaceutical companies and health insurers generated the highest returns. Wall Street believes drug companies stand to benefit from potential coronavirus treatments or vaccines.
  • The stock price of Gilead Sciences, for example, is up 18% so far this year, partially on the assumption its coronavirus drug, remdesivir, will produce billions of dollars of revenue — even though the drug has showed only modest benefit for patients.

Between the lines: The second quarter likely will be worse, as the brunt of the coronavirus lockdown was felt in April and May. But normal operations have already started resuming for some health care sectors, regardless of the virus' spread.

The bottom line: Investors can't resist health care's track record for profitability.

Go deeper

Jun 29, 2020 - Health

HHS secures 500,000 doses of remdesivir

White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx and HHS Sec. Alex Azar

The Trump administration has secured 500,000 doses of remdesivir, the first drug shown to be effective at treating hospitalized coronavirus patients, ensuring these doses will be for U.S. use.

Between the lines: The administration is not directly purchasing the drug, but it will use coronavirus hospitalization data to determine how to allocate it by state, and state health departments will decide which hospitals will get the drug.

Jun 29, 2020 - Health

Gilead sets price for coronavirus treatment remdesivir

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Gilead will charge U.S. hospitals $3,120 for the shortest treatment course of its coronavirus drug remdesivir for typical patients with private insurance, according to an open letter from CEO Daniel O’Day.

Why it matters: It is the first antiviral drug shown to effectively treat coronavirus in a major clinical trial, and Gilead's pricing decision may set the bar for how future treatments will be priced.

Q2 was one for the record books

Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. stock indexes closed out a record-breaking second quarter on Tuesday, with all three of the major indexes ending higher on the day and each finishing the quarter with their best performance in at least 20 years.

By the numbers: The benchmark S&P 500 ended Tuesday up 1.5% for its third positive close in four days.