3 Healthcare Stocks That Are Looking Cheap

By Markets Fool.com

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Do you like bargains? Whether we're buying a car, a house, or a stock, most people like to think they're getting a good deal. Those bargains can be found if you look hard enough.

Even though many healthcare stocks have rebounded in recent months from declines that began in 2015, there are still some that appear to be selling at relatively cheap prices. Here are three healthcare bargains to check out.

Lannett Company

It's been a rough 12 months for Lannett. The generic-drug maker's stock plunged around 70% before beginning to climb back in May and June. What happened to this once highflying stock?

Lannett's 2015 acquisition of Kremers Urban Pharmaceuticals for $1.2 billion hit a snag right out of the gate. Kremers lost a major customer before Lannett's buyout was finalized. An earnings outlook cut in March due to delayed product launches and overall softness in the generic-drugs market made things even worse for Lannett's stock price. That cut was followed by the departure of Michael Bogda, Lannett's president.

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Thanks to all of this bad news, though, Lannett now appears attractively valued with a forward earnings multiple of 8. The company still faces challenges, but I like Lannett's prospects over the long run.

Lannett says it's making good progress in restoring the relationship with the big customer that left Kremers. CEO Arthur Bedrosian expressed optimism in May that the two parties would resolve their differences and establish a long-term relationship. Lannett also seems to be on track with achieving expected synergies from the Kremers acquisition.

Then there's the pipeline. Lannett recently won approval for four drugs and has 30 product applications pending FDA decisions. The company also forged a partnership in April with YiChang HEC ChangJiang Pharmaceutical to co-develop a generic insulin product for the U.S. market.

I think a little bit of good news could send Lannett's shares significantly higher. It's only a matter of time, in my view, before this embattled stock gets the positive news it needs.

Ligand Pharmaceuticals

You might not think that Ligand Pharmaceuticals is a screaming bargain at first glance. Its forward earnings multiple of nearly 23 doesn't look cheap. However, I think Ligand's enormous potential makes the stock a good deal at current price levels.

For now, most of Ligand's revenue stems from two out-licensed drugs, Promacta and Kyprolis. The two products accounted for most of the nearly 40% year-over-year royalty revenue growth that Ligand enjoyed in the first quarter. I expect both drugs will continue to add nicely to Ligand's coffers.

An even bigger opportunity for Ligand, though, stems from other drugs developed by partners using the company's technology -- especially its Captisol platform, which helps improve solubility and bioavailability in drugs. Three of these partnered drugs currently await FDA approval. Another eight are in late-stage studies. And 21 more drugs are in phase 2 testing.

Ligand expects 2017 earnings to jump nearly 50% compared to this year's earnings, and Wall Street seems to agree with that optimism. That kind of growth makes Ligand's current price look like a much better deal than its earnings multiples might indicate.

Express Scripts

A dispute with its biggest customer caused Express Scripts' shares to plummet earlier this year. I liked the giant pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) before its dust-up with Anthem , and I like it even more now.

Express Scripts' forward earnings multiple of 11 makes this stock quite a bargain, in my view. Even if the PBM lost Anthem's business, Express Scripts would still be attractively priced. And I remain skeptical that Anthem will actually walk away -- at least not until its contract expires in 2019.

It seems entirely reasonable to expect continued pressure from payers (including government entities, insurers, and self-funded employers) to hold down prescription drug costs. That's what PBMs do. It also seems reasonable to assume that larger PBMs will be able to contain these costs more effectively due to their economies of scale and leverage in obtaining the best pricing. Express Scripts is the biggest PBM around, so I think the company should be in pretty good shape for the future.

In the meantime, Express Scripts is sitting on a cash stockpile (including cash equivalents and short-term investments) of $1.8 billion. The company will probably use that cash in a couple of ways. First, Express Scripts seems likely to continue buying back shares, a move that should help its stock performance. Second, the PBM could buy smaller companies and thereby gain even greater economies of scale and pricing leverage.

My view is that the market overreacted to the Anthem situation. I think Express Scripts' solid business model and size make this stock a good choice for long-term investors.

The article 3 Healthcare Stocks That Are Looking Cheap originally appeared on Fool.com.

Keith Speights owns shares of Express Scripts and Lannett. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Express Scripts. The Motley Fool recommends Anthem. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.