I don’t have a crystal ball, but some trends you can see continuing from a mile away. If you’re looking for performance in what has been a volatile year so far for the markets, following these three trends might help in March.
1. Lithium mining stocks will continue to rise
Albemarle (ALB -3.86%) just came out with its full-year and fourth-quarter earnings, and the mining company’s decision to raise prices for lithium is paying off. Knowing that automakers increasingly need lithium for the batteries in electric vehicles, the move was simply a case of higher demand raising prices.
Albemarle’s fourth-quarter and full-year numbers were edifying. The company reported fourth-quarter revenue of $2.6 billion, up 193% year over year. Full-year revenue was $7.3 billion, up 119%. Earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter were $9.60, up 753% over the same period last year, while full-year EPS was $22.84, a huge leap from $1.06 last year. The company sees continued growth for 2023 with full-year revenue forecast between $11.3 billion and $12.9 billion.
Albemarle’s success also bodes well for other Lithium stocks, including Lithium Americas (LAC -3.65%), which isn’t even producing lithium or revenue yet. Lithium Americas is proceeding with construction on its Thacker Pass mine in Humboldt County, Nevada, after what it said was a favorable ruling against those opposing the mine. The company also is close to launching operations in the Caucharí-Olaroz mine in Jujuy, Argentina, and said it expects to begin producing lithium in the first half of this year.
Lithium Americas holds a 44.8% interest in the Caucharí-Olaroz mine, with Chinese lithium company Ganfeng Lithium holding the rest. Lithium Americas is already lining up customers for its lithium and struck a supply agreement regarding the Thacker Pass mine with General Motors on Jan. 31.
Another Lithium mining stock to watch is Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile (SQM -4.11%). It reports full-year and fourth-quarter earnings on March 1. Through the first nine months, it had $7.57 billion in revenue, up 326%, year over year. Net income was $2.76 billion, up 944% over the same period, while EPS through nine months was $9.65 compared to $0.92 in the same period last year.
2. Look for continued success for home healthcare stocks
The trend toward providing more healthcare services at home isn’t likely to slow down. While it was given a push during the pandemic, several factors are likely to drive increased use of delivering medical services in the home.
The most obvious is a reduced cost, both to insurers and to patients, of having healthcare in the home or an outpatient facility, rather than in a hospital. This is particularly true for people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.
Another trend that will increase home healthcare is the increased digitization of patient monitoring, including health monitoring trackers. A study by ReportLinker indicates home healthcare spending will rise, with a compound annual growth rate of 8.3% through 2028, becoming a $405.6 billion market by that time.
The last trend toward more home healthcare is an increasing desire by the growing senior population to age in place. One negative factor the industry is facing is increased labor costs, but that trend is affecting healthcare companies in general.
Two companies that benefit from this trend are Addus HomeCare (ADUS -1.60%) and DexCom (DXCM -0.61%). Addus, which provides home healthcare and hospice services, has seen its shares rise more than 45% over the past year. Through the first nine months of last year, the company reported revenue of $704.1 million, up 10% year over year, though net income was down slightly to $31.3 million, compared to $32.1 million in the same period a year ago.
DexCom, which makes continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGMs) for diabetes patients, has seen its shares rise more than 22% over the past year. The company got Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its latest CGM device, the G7, last year and should see the benefit of increased sales this year. In 2022, the company reported revenue of $2.91 billion, up 19%, and net income of $341.2 million, up 57% over 2021.
3. There may be a winner in the race for an RSV vaccine
Several companies are fighting to be the first to have an approved vaccine to fight respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which hospitalizes 60,000 to 12,000 older adults (those 65 and older) each year and kills between 6,000 and 10,000 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are 11 RSV vaccines that are currently being studied, according to data from PATH, a non-profit health organization, but only two are in phase 3 trials. Both of these RSV vaccines, one by GSK (GSK -0.20%) and one by Pfizer (PFE -1.02%), are for people 60 and older.
Pfizer’s vaccine, RSVpreF, was shown to be 85.7% effective on patients 60 and older, according to the company. The FDA accepted priority review for a biologics license application (BLA) for the vaccine in December. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) goal date for a decision is in May, but it could come sooner, considering the importance of an RSV vaccine.
The candidate from GSK (formerly GlaxoSmithKline), RSVPreF3 OA, was effective on 83% of patients 60 and older in stopping symptomatic illness and was 94% effective in preventing severe illness in the group, according to a study published Feb. 16 in the New England Journal of Medicine. GSK, in its fourth-quarter report, said it anticipates approval of its BLA in the first half of this year as well.
It’s possible that both vaccines could be approved, but the first one with an FDA nod would likely give its company at least a short-term edge in 2023 sales.