Confirming the industry's reputation as a safe haven for investors, healthcare companies-led by insurers-earned the highest shareholder confidence scores of any industry in a worldwide study released last week.
Anthem, Indianapolis, achieved the highest overall score, according to Brendan Wood International, a strategy consulting firm based in Bermuda, which released initial results from its first Global Shareholder Confidence World Watch Report.
The study evaluated 550 companies worldwide with comment from more than 2,200 institutional investors, analysts and investment bank sales professionals. Each firm was rated on 24 criteria.
Healthcare equipment and services companies tied with household product firms for the highest average score, rating especially high for their financial parameters, quality of leadership and management, and long-term growth potential. "It's not just one reason," said Trevor Torzsas, a Brendan Wood spokesman.
A Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association licensee, Anthem rated highly both for its quality of leadership and management and its long-term growth potential. According to commentary collected by Brendan Wood, Anthem is "taking a do-good persona which is helping them gain the trust" of Wall Street.
Also in the top 10 was insurer WellPoint Health Networks, Thousand Oaks, Calif., and drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israeli firm cited for high growth potential stemming from innovation and a large pipeline that includes a strong generic business. Other U.S. companies in the top 10 were Starbucks Corp., eBay and retailers Kohl's Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores.
Insurer UnitedHealth Group, which scored 883 out of a possible 1,100, was the third-highest performer of 14 healthcare equipment and services companies rated. Hospital operator HCA, Nashville, ranked fourth in the category with a score of 836.
Hospital chain Tenet Healthcare Corp., Santa Barbara, Calif., which is being investigated for overbilling Medicare and other improprieties, ranked near the bottom of the category, at No. 13. Tenet scored 686 vs. an industry average of 805. The company announced a reorganization of its operating structure last week (See related story above).