Now could be the perfect time to buy a slice of AstraZeneca (LSE: AZN). Certainly, the chances of a takeover are slimmer than they were last year, with the US tax authorities closing a loophole thatmade UK-domiciled healthcare companies such as AstraZeneca more appealing from a tax perspective. However, with the companys acquisition strategy set to bear fruit, 2016 could be a prosperous year for its investors.
In fact, just this week AstraZeneca announced two important deals thatcould boost its long-term profitability. The first is the purchase of Takedas respiratory business for $575m and the second is an investment of up to $100m in Chinese biological drug manufacturer WuXi AppTec. The two transactions strengthen AstraZenecas exposure to its core growth areas and should make a positive impact on its goal to double sales within the next eight years.
With the company having a very strong balance sheet and excellent cash flow, it seems capable of making further acquisitions to bolster its growth prospects in 2016. And with it having a price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 15.8, it appears to offer excellent value given its bright long-term future.
Similarly, Alliance Pharma (LSE: APH) also appears to be a very sound buy at the present time. Like AstraZeneca, it has recently engaged in M&A activity, with Alliance purchasing the health products arm of Sinclair Pharma for 132m. The deal will provide Alliance with access to a wider range of countries, notably the US and across Asia, and will also bolster its dermatology portfolio.
Looking ahead, Alliance has clear upward rerating potential since its shares trade on a P/E ratio of just 13.2. While an earnings growth forecast of 6% for next year is rather modest, Alliance has a sound balance sheet, with further acquisitions very much on the cards. And with an increased presence in lucrative markets such as the US and Asia, it appears to have a very bright long-term future thatcould begin to be priced-in during the course of 2016.
Star of wonder
Meanwhile, NMC Health (LSE: NMC) has been one of the stars of 2015, with the UAE-focused medical services company posting a share price rise of 93% since the turn of the year. A key reason for this is the companys impressive near-term growth prospects, with NMC being forecast to increase its bottom line by 40% in the current year.
Looking ahead to next year, NMC is expected to continue this strong rate of growth with a rise of 38% forecast in its bottom line. This puts its shares on a price-to-earnings growth (PEG) ratio of just 0.5, which indicates that they offer growth at a very reasonable price. Certainly, the company has a lack of geographical diversity, but with a wide margin of safety it appears to be a sound long-term buy at the present time.
Despite this, there’s another stock thatcould outperform NMC, AstraZeneca and Alliance next year. In fact it’s been named as A Top Growth Share From The Motley Fool.
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