Here's Why Small-Cap HealthCare ETFs & Stocks Are Good Picks

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Healthcare stocks are seen as relatively defensive and can provide safety to one's portfolio during market downturns, which has been the case this year now. Ebbing fears related to price gouging, flurry of positive clinical trials, increasing health care spending, decent valuation have also been benefiting the sector.

Two particular factors are likely to act as wind beneath the wings of the healthcare sector, pushing up small-cap healthcare stocks and the related funds.

Tax Reform

Per an article published on Reuters, domestically geared healthcare companies that focus on services are likely to benefit from the lower tax rate. These companies have limited international exposure and considerable capital expenditures, as per the source.

Mizuho Securities indicated that "tax reform should be a significant positive cash flow event , especially for healthcare services companies that tend to have limited international exposure and significant capital expenditures."

Merger and Acquisition

The U.S. healthcare supply chain is consolidating fast, with deals across the industry ranging from insurers, pharmacies to drug distributors. According to an article published on Bloomberg, smaller insurers like WellCare Health Plans Inc. WCG , Centene Corp. CNC , Molina Healthcare Inc. MOH and Obamacare-focused startup Oscar Insurance Corp. appear to be lucrative acquisition targets. These companies may merge among themselves or can be lapped up by larger insurers eyeing scale advantage in a specific business area (read : Cigna to Buy Express Scripts: Healthcare ETFs in Focus ).

The range of M&A activity is spreading beyond the healthcare sector. Leerink Partners analyst Ana Gupte noted retail giant, Walmart Inc. WMT "has a co-branded Medicare drug plan with Humana that steers patients to Walmart stores -- which could make the retailer a prospective buyer of Humana."

Like many analysts, we also believe that, if, as an investor, one wants to make a lot from a buyout premium , targeting small-cap stocks would be the best choice.

Against this backdrop, we highlight a few small-cap oriented stocks and ETFs for investors.

ETF Picks

PowerShares S&P SmallCap Health Care Portfolio PSCH

The fund targets the S&P SmallCap 600 Capped Health Care Index. The 77-stock fund has a keen focus on Healthcare Equipment, Pharmaceuticals Suppliers and Providers & Services, which account for about 75% of the portfolio. The fund charges 29 bps in fees (read: 5 ETFs to Bet on Post Fed Minutes ).

SPDR S&P Health Care Services ETF XHS

The underlying S&P Health Care Services Select Industry Index holds 49 stocks in its portfolio. Health Care Services comprises 37% of the fund, followed by Health Care Facilities (26.6%) and Managed Health Care (22.7%). The fund has 28% exposure to large-cap stocks while small-cap stocks hold 50% share. Mid-cap stocks comprise the balance, It charges 35 bps in fees.  

SPDR S&P Health Care Equipment ETF XHE

The fund puts 78% focus on Healthcare Equipments while Health Care Supplies takes the rest of it. Small-cap stocks occupy the majority share, while around 21% is held by large-cap stocks.

Stock Picks

Almost Family Inc. AFAM

This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company is a regionally focused provider of home health services.

Market Cap: $817.9 million

Accuray Incorporated ARAY

This Zacks Rank #2 stock is a global leader in the field of radiosurgery and a non-surgical treatment option for those diagnosed with cancer.

Market Cap: $494.7 million

Surmodics, Inc. SRDX

It is a provider of surface modification technologies in the areas of biocompatibility, site specific drug delivery, biological cell encapsulation, and medical diagnostics and holds a Zacks Rank #2.

Market Cap: $ 448.04 million

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SPDR-SP HC EQPT (XHE): ETF Research Reports

SPDR-SP HLTH CR (XHS): ETF Research Reports

PWRSH-SP SC HCP (PSCH): ETF Research Reports

Accuray Incorporated (ARAY): Free Stock Analysis Report

Surmodics, Inc. (SRDX): Free Stock Analysis Report

Molina Healthcare Inc (MOH): Free Stock Analysis Report

WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (WCG): Free Stock Analysis Report

Centene Corporation (CNC): Free Stock Analysis Report

Almost Family Inc (AFAM): Free Stock Analysis Report

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , ETFs
Referenced Symbols: XHE , XHS , PSCH , ARAY , SRDX

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