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Health Care Stocks

Best in Show: A Stock for the Dogs (and Cats)

By Elliott H. Gue, on Nov. 20, 2013

But one segment of the health care sector won’t be affected by ACA. Companies that target this niche market also have no exposure to Medicare reimbursement trends, Medicaid enrollment, government insurance subsidies, insurance risk pools, changes in health maintenance organization (HMO) coverage or new taxes set up under ACA. 

Although uncertainty reigns supreme in the human health care market, companies that focus on health products and services for pets and livestock continue to prosper.

There are more than 189 million companion animals in the US alone, including 165 million dogs and cats. An estimated 62 percent of US households own at least one pet and spend a combined $30 billion annually on veterinary services, medicine, boarding and grooming.

And Americans are increasingly concerned about the health and well-being of their pets. A recent survey showed that more than half of US pet owners prepare special meals just for their dog or cat, while more than two-thirds or respondents take their pets on vacation with them and 93 percent said they’d risk their own life to save the life of their dog or cat.

Veterinary medicine has also made huge strides. Diagnostic tests, medical equipment and medications that have been used to treat humans for years are now being adapted for the veterinary markets. And greater awareness of and advertising for human treatments are driving US pet owners to request similar health care products and services for their companion animals.

Even better, about 99 percent of all veterinary treatments and services are paid for at the end of the visit. Unlike the doctors and hospitals that treat human patients, delayed reimbursements from Medicare and insurance companies aren’t much of a factor in the cash-and-carry pet health care market.

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