Updated May 18, 2018

The health care industry is awash in cash

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Axios analysis of company financial documents; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The health care industry recorded an immensely profitable first quarter, according to an analysis of financial documents for 108 companies. Year-over-year earnings among the 10 biggest health care corporations by net profit soared by 8.4%.

Yes, but: Wall Street wants more. The S&P 500 health care index so far this year is trailing the broader S&P 500 as well as other industries, including energy and technology.

The bottom line: The 108 companies cumulatively boosted Q1 global revenues by 6.3% to $558 billion — an amount from just one quarter that is about the size of Sweden's economy. Their collective profits actually decreased 0.8% to $44.7 billion, but if a few one-off elements from 2017 were eliminated, profits would have increased.

  • More than half of the industry's earnings came from 10 companies.
  • All 10 of those companies that reaped the largest earnings are either pharmaceutical firms or are involved with the drug supply chain.
  • No health care company collected more Q1 earnings than Johnson & Johnson, the maker of drugs, medical devices and Band-Aids.
  • Drug maker Amgen's 41.6% profit margin was the highest among all companies in Q1.
  • Of the 10 companies with the highest profit margins, eight were pharmaceutical firms. The other two were a real estate investment trust (Welltower) and a medical device company (Intuitive Surgical).
  • The Republican tax overhaul contributed to increased earnings, as savings from a lower corporate tax rate immediately fall to the bottom line — especially for companies like health insurers that have almost all of their business in the U.S.
  • The analysis did not include not-for-profit hospital systems, but most of those organizations have been doing well, too.

The big picture: Higher profits and revenues naturally mean U.S. health care spending is increasing. That inevitably affects other portions of the economy — like how people may not be getting significant salary raises since their employers are covering the rising costs of health care.

Go deeper: The health care industry's bubble.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 1,225,360 — Total deaths: 66,542 — Total recoveries: 252,615Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 312,249 — Total deaths: 8,503 — Total recoveries: 15,021Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August." Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: The Louisiana governor warned that his state is set to run out of ventilators in four days. Illinois governor claims Trump doesn't understand the word "federal."
  6. Oil latest: Monday meeting among oil-producing countries to discuss supply curbs is reportedly being delayed amid tensions between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
  7. Work update: Employees still going to work are often facing temperature checks, distanced work stations, protective devices and mass absences.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Illinois governor: "The president does not understand the word 'federal'"

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that President Trump's comments about the federal government's stockpile of medical equipment suggest he "does not understand the word 'federal.'"

Why it matters: White House adviser Jared Kushner argued at a press briefing last week that the "notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile; it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use."

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 8,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 8,500 in the U.S. early Sunday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday that this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

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