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.