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Is Pain Ahead for Healthcare ETFs After Weak JNJ Q1?

The hot healthcare sector has made a nice comeback this year on cheap valuation, robust earnings results, encouraging industry trends, and a slew of positive actions taken by the President despite the collapse of the healthcare bill (read: Best ETFs & Stocks from Top Sectors of Q1 ).

This is especially true as popular funds - Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLV) , Vanguard Health Care ETF VHT , iShares U.S. Healthcare ETF IYH and Fidelity MSCI Health Care Index ETF FHLC - have gained at least 8% so far this year, easily outpacing the gain of 5.7% for the broad market fund SPY .

However, the ETFs took hit from lackluster Johnson & Johnson JNJ quarterly results last week as the company lagged our revenue estimate for the second consecutive quarter on sluggish drug sales. JNJ occupies the top position in the above-mentioned ETFs with double-digit allocation.

Results from the world's biggest maker of health care products could be a warning sign for other drug makers as many of them are losing their exclusivity with the launch of biosimilars. As a result, the sector is expected to post modest earnings growth of 0.8% and revenue growth of 6.3%, as per the latest Earnings Trends (read: Lackluster J&J Q1 Pushes Healthcare ETFs Down ).

Let's delve deeper into the earnings picture of some of the largest companies in the healthcare space that are expected to report this week and in the next and have the potential to drive the performance of the above-mentioned funds.

Some of the big names dominating the funds include Pfizer PFE , Merck MRK , Amgen AMGN ), AbbVie ABBV , Gilead Sciences GILD and Bristol-Myers Squibb BMY . All these stocks collectively account for 27.3% share in XLV, 26.1% in IYH, 23.9% in VHT and 23.6% in FHLC.

According to the our surprise prediction methodology, a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) when combined with a positive Earnings ESP increases the chance of an earnings beat, while a Zacks Rank #4 or 5 (Sell rated) are best avoided.

You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they're reported with our Earnings ESP Filter .

Inside Our Surprise Prediction of These Stocks

Pfizer has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of 0.00%, which makes surprise prediction difficult. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for first-quarter 2017 is 67 cents, up a nickel over the past three months. The stock delivered positive earnings surprises in two of the past four quarters, with an average beat of 4.36%. Additionally, it has an impressive Value and Momentum Style Score of B and A, respectively, though a Growth Style Score of C is unfavorable. Pfizer is scheduled to report earnings on May 2 before the opening bell.

Merck is expected to report its results on May 2 before the market opens. It has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of 0.00%, which makes surprise prediction difficult. Though the stock witnessed a negative earnings estimate revision of four cents over the past 90 days for the to-be-reported quarter, it delivered positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters, with an average beat of 4.03%. Merck seems a triple play stock with strong Value, Growth and Momentum Style Score of B each.

Amgen has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of +2.33%, indicating a reasonable chance of beating estimates this quarter. The earnings surprise track over the past four quarters is robust with an average positive surprise of 7.38%. Amgen witnessed positive earnings estimate revision of a nickel over the past 90 days for the yet-to-be-reported quarter. Though the stock has a solid Value and Momentum Style Score of B and A, respectively, the Growth Style Score of D looks dull. Amgen will report earnings on April 26 after market close (read: Trump, Biogen and Amgen Hammer Healthcare ETFs ).

AbbVie has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of 0.00%, which makes surprise prediction difficult. The company delivered positive earnings surprises in the last four quarters, with an average beat of 1.92% and saw positive earnings estimate revision by a penny over the past three months for the to-be-reported quarter. The stock has a solid Value and Momentum Style Score of B each while the Growth Style Score of D is unimpressive. The company is scheduled to report on April 27 before the opening bell.

Gilead is expected to release earnings on May 2 after market close. It has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of +2.77%, indicating a reasonable chance of beating estimates. Gilead delivered positive earnings surprises in two of the last four quarters, with an average beat of 2.88% but saw a negative earnings estimate revision of 34 cents over the past three months for the to-be-reported quarter. Though it has a solid Value and Momentum Style Score of A each, the Growth Style Score of C looks ugly.

Bristol-Myers will likely report its earnings on April 27 before the opening bell. It has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of -1.37%, indicating less chances of beating estimates this quarter. The stock delivered positive earnings surprises in three of the past four quarters with an average beat of 7.26% and witnessed no earnings estimate revision for the to-be-reported quarter. It has an unfavorable Value, Growth and Momentum Style Score of C each (see: all the Healthcare ETFs here ).

Summing Up

Given a few earnings surprises in store this season, healthcare ETFs are likely to remain range bound. The funds also have a Zacks ETF Rank #3 each.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY): Free Stock Analysis Report

Pfizer, Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ): Free Stock Analysis Report

Merck & Company, Inc. (MRK): Free Stock Analysis Report

AbbVie Inc. (ABBV): Free Stock Analysis Report

Affiliated Managers Group, Inc. (AMG): Free Stock Analysis Report

SPDR-SP 500 TR (SPY): ETF Research Reports

VIPERS-HLTH CR (VHT): ETF Research Reports

ISHARS-US HLTHC (IYH): ETF Research Reports

FID-H CARE (FHLC): ETF Research Reports

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD): Free Stock Analysis Report

Amgen Inc. (AMGN): Free Stock Analysis Report

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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.


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

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