By Jan Alexander | Investment managers come in many political stripes. But regardless of where an investor falls on the political spectrum, those who specialize in health care have at least one reason to embrace President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Thanks in part to expansion of health care coverage under the law, the S&P 500 Health Care index has risen some 120 percent between December 2011 and December 2014, versus a 65 percent rise for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index overall.
The health care sector seems likely to slow in 2015, however. Industry analysts and portfolio managers see uncertainties ahead for managed care companies, health insurers and publicly listed hospitals. What had been a perfect moneymaking storm of expanded insurance coverage and an aging population is now priced into the sector. And whereas Obamacare isn’t likely to disappear, in 2015 there will be a Republican majority in the House and Senate and Republican governors in 31 states, thereby opening up the possibility for legislative changes.
“I wouldn’t expect the meteoric rise to continue,” says Michael Gregory, who is the head of health care investing at Highland Capital Management, a Dallas-based hedge fund firm that manages about $19 billion in assets, with some $2.5 billion in health care–related equities, debt and credit, including a long-short health care fund. He sees some winners emerging in the next few years but also some stunting of growth as a result of the November elections — and, therefore, some opportunities to go short.