Don't Fear Healthcare Stocks, Forester Says

While many investors are afraid of healthcare stocks right now because of the possibility of major industry reforms, the lone diversified stock fund manager to make money in 2008 is bullish on the sector.

Tom Forester of the Forester Value fund says he thinks much of the potential bad news is already priced into healthcare stocks, Fortune reports. And with the sector trading at about seven times earnings vs. around 20 for the broader market, he’s staying with it. “These are emotionally difficult stocks to hold right now because they are in the crosshairs,” he says. “[But] value guys are paid to buy stocks that are cheap and have some emotional component in it.”

Forester thinks the reform talk will be more style than substance. “You’re going to have a lot of noise, a lot of arm-waving and at the end of the day they’re going to pass a bill that’s going to be a little negative to fairly neutral,” he says. “We think once the noise simmers down and the dust settles on this, these things will do quite well.”

Among Forester’s recent healthcare holdings: Schering Plough and Wyeth, which have been bought by Merck and Pfizer, respectively. He also owns Bristol-Meyers.

“Right now he’s particularly focused on stable companies,” writes Fortune’s Beth Kowitt. “Over the last six months, Forester says investors have wanted the unstable stocks because they tanked and then ran. Forester says that he bought a little bit of the junk too, but now the pendulum is shifting back to quality.”

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