‘Pent-up demand’ released from stocks relieved at details in Senate bill: Analyst

  • Health and hospital stocks released "pent-up demand" after fears of a sell-off were avoided.
  • The Senate health bill is "very close to the House bill," said Ana Gupte of Leerink Partners.

Health and hospital stocks rose Thursday, releasing "pent-up demand" after fears of a sell-off were avoided when the Senate Obamacare replacement bill was unveiled, said Ana Gupte, managing director of health-care services at Leerink Partners.

"I think there is some pent-up demand resulting in the response today, because there was a belief that there might be a sell-off, and it turns out that the Senate bill is very close to the House bill," Gupte said Thursday on CNBC's "Power Lunch." "Indirectly, the hospital stocks also benefit from the exchanges being more stable."

Health stocks gained when the Senate bill became publicly available. Pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline rose 1.7 percent to $44.36, and WellCare Health Plans jumped 3.8 percent. Hospital stocks also advanced significantly: Tenet Healthcare Healthcare rose more than 8 percent at one point before giving back some of those gains.

"The health-care bill really doesn't have any drug pricing provisions in it," Marshall Gordon, senior research analyst at ClearBridge Investments, said on "Power Lunch." "I think that was a green light for a lot of generalists who have been on the sidelines, concerned of what they may see with drug pricing."

Gupte said some stocks, including HMOs such as Humana, are up particularly because of the tax cuts for insurers. "There was some concern around that," she said. Extended funding for insurance exchanges is pushing other names higher, such as Molina Healthcare, up 2.3 percent.

While Gupte said publicly traded hospitals aren't greatly affected by eventual cuts to Medicaid, "in the long term, if this remains the policy and the law of the land, there is downsides for the stocks."