Apr 15, 2019

Political uncertainty could bring volatility to health care stocks

Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson and UnitedHealth Group are lighting the Q1 earnings torch this week, per usual, but Wall Street investors are uneasy about the industry’s forecast even though companies are still immensely profitable right now.

Driving the news: Medicare for All legislation, the Trump administration’s drug rebate regulation and another legal battle over the Affordable Care Act have created volatility with health care stocks, which have traded below the broader market.

  • Those overhangs have especially affected the biggest health insurance companies even though they have reliably beaten Wall Street’s profit expectations almost every quarter for the past 3 years.
  • Barclays is holding a health care investor call today with Tim Gronniger, a former Obama administration health official, to talk through Medicare for All, among other topics.

By the numbers: We track more than 110 publicly traded health care companies, and together, they posted $168 billion of profit in 2018.

  • Just the profit haul of this basket of companies, which doesn’t include the hundreds of large U.S. not-for-profit hospital systems, is bigger than Utah’s entire economy.

Go deeper: Our health care earnings tracker is updated.

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Texas oil regulators poised to debate historic production controls

Workers extracting oil from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas. Photo: Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images

Texas oil regulators are likely to hold a hearing in April on whether to take the historic step to curb the state’s oil production amid a global market collapse fueled by the coronavirus.

Driving the news: Ryan Sitton, one of three commissioners of the Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees state oil production, told Axios that a hearing will likely be held soon in response to a renewed request earlier Monday from two oil companies to limit production as one way to stem the steep slide in global oil prices.

America under lockdown

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you thought March felt like the longest month in American history, just wait for April and May, when people will be forced to witness spring from the indoors.

The big picture: 28 states are in or entering lockdown, with Maryland and Virginia joining those ranks today. So is D.C., as its mayor made official this afternoon. Those states include roughly 3/4 of the American people, the N.Y. Times notes.

Ford, GE aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days

A Model A-E ventilator, left, and a simple test lung. The ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Photo: Ford

Ford and GE Healthcare announced plans on Monday to build a simplified ventilator design licensed from a Florida medical technology company, with the goal of producing 50,000 machines by early July, and up to 30,000 a month thereafter, to fight the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The companies are moving in "Trump time" to meet demand for urgently needed ventilators, says White House Defense Production Act Coordinator Peter Navarro. But with deaths expected to peak in two weeks, the machines won't arrive in large numbers in time to help the hardest-hit cities.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health