- "If you want big pharma exposure, with fewer headaches related to U.S. politics, you could always buy a well-run foreign drug company," CNBC's Jim Cramer says.
- The "Mad Money" host recommends AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis.
- He says the drug stocks are plays for investors who are worried about the future of America’s health-care system.
CNBC's Jim Cramer on Friday said investors who are worried about domestic drug stocks have a good chance picking among foreign ones.
"If you want big pharma exposure, with fewer headaches related to U.S. politics, you could always buy a well-run foreign drug company," he said, because they are not so dependent on the American market.
On Thursday, Cramer explained that managed care stocks got hit by Wall Street's fears of the improving presidential prospects of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. They trimmed their holdings in the sector over Warren's uncertain chances of getting lawmakers to pass a national health-care policy that would upend the U.S. health-care system.
AstraZeneca does 33% of its business in the U.S. and "a lot of investors are betting that European companies like this one ... will have more expertise at dealing with [a single-payer system] than their American rivals," Cramer said.
The drugmaker also has a number of cancer-fighting products in the pipeline that can contribute to its growth.
GlaxoSmithKline has 39% revenue coming from the U.S. market. Cramer noted that the company is moving away from its commoditized businesses and into fast-growing areas such as oncology. Executives have been working on a number of tie-ups, such as its $5.1 billion deal for biotech firm Tesaro in December, he said.
"I'm even more bullish about GlaxoSmithKline than I was in January," Cramer said. "With the stock selling for less than 14 times earnings, I'm calling it a steal. Plus, [CEO Emma] Walmsley's paying you to wait: 4.8% yield. That's a good investment."
Novartis sells 33% into the U.S. as well. It's also revamping its business away from consumer business in favor of acquiring smaller companies, such as gene therapy company AveXis for $9 billion, that focus on new technologies.
AveXis ran into some trouble with the FDA last month, which hurt the stock, but Cramer said he likes Novartis' prospects.
"While I don't like it, it's not a deal breaker for me," he said. "Those not-so-hot headlines mean you can buy Novartis at a discount here, with the stock trading at 15 times earnings and sporting a 3.3% yield."
Disclosure: Cramer's charitable trust owns shares of Novartis.