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  • 15/06/2016

Mindy Perry on how Manulife’s strategy conquers healthcare adversity


Dedicated Healthcare Pioneer

A determination to provide its MPF members with a diverse range of investment options has paid off for Manulife, winning a BENCHMARK Best-in-Class award in the Healthcare Sector.

With more than 1.5 million unique MPF customers, it is clear that many members, when given the opportunity, are choosing Manulife as their preferred MPF service provider. In particular, the company is firmly committed to enriching its MPF platform with a diverse range of investment options – the Manulife MPF Healthcare Fund is an excellent example of this drive for product diversity.

When asked to elaborate on the Fund’s primary attributes and how Manulife’s investment style benefits members, Mindy Perry, Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, pointed out that: “The key thing is that we are long-term investors in the healthcare space and avoid chasing the next fad. Moreover, we seek enduring business models with diverse pipelines.” adding, “Given the pressures on drug pricing, we remain focused on areas of true innovation, such as cancer and chronic diseases which are less sensitive to the threat of drug price decreases.”

“The geographic positioning of the Fund reflects where we see the most attractive opportunities. Historically, this has been in US healthcare names that have strong management teams, opportunities for robust returns and margin sustainability. We also look to invest in regions and healthcare sub-sectors which are facing the lowest price power.”

US Pricing Superiority

Exploring the market more closely, Perry commented that: “The US has traditionally enjoyed the best pricing environment, as it is the only market which maintains a free-pricing environment. US drug prices rise by around 5–10% each year, while prices are regulated down every year in most other countries and territories. Despite Trump’s rhetoric on drug prices, we believe that pricing in the US is still superior to other countries.”

Remaining on the theme of Fund allocation, Perry noted that from a biotech company investment perspective, Manulife adopts a constructive stance, “Most small biotech firms rely on one pipeline drug and therefore have binary return outcomes. We are wary of companies with binary case scenarios as the odds of succeeding are very low. With a focus on quality, we do not want to subject our investors to the volatility and risks that small biotech firms bring.”

A Watchful Eye

Perry also remarked that outside the US, emerging markets are fast growing, with much potential. However, in most of emerging markets, pricing controls that are putting pressure on margins and earnings. “That said, we are keeping a close eye on emerging markets, and if circumstances turn positive we will be among the first to invest in these markets,” she concluded.

“We believe that total healthcare spending will grow at a very high rate over the next few years, and, as such, the healthcare sector will be an attractive place to invest. Of course, it is hard to predict how share prices will behave in the short term, but looking ahead we are confident there will be steady expansion in the market.”

Legal Hurdles

However, the healthcare sector faces some immediate challenges, notable among these is Trump’s recent attack on drug pricing. “On 11 January 2017, President-elect Donald Trump challenged the pharmaceutical industry by criticizing drug pricing. He then proposed a bidding system for Medicare drug pricing.” She continued, “Without specifics, it is unclear on how this would work,” adding, “it is illegal for Medicare to negotiate drug prices directly with the manufacturers. To change the law, Trump will need the support of his fellow Republicans in Congress.”

Perry elaborated on this point by noting that given that Republicans are generally favorable towards the pharmaceutical industry, Trump will have a difficult time gaining the support needed to alter legislation. Moreover, Medicare part D (the only part that government will have a real impact on) represents only 25% of total drug spending.

Actual Drug Prices Increase is Not as Large as it Looks

Exploring drug pricing more closely, Perry explained that there is a misperception that drug price increases are north of 10% each year, “Actually there is a big difference between list price increases and net price increases, or how much increase a drug company can retain in the end. Most of the price ‘increases’ are passed back to the clients in the form of rebates,” continuing with this theme she observed that, “according to the latest figures, even though the average list price increase is about 10%, the actual increase, net of rebate, is only 2.5%. Furthermore, even though brand name drugs have seen consistent prices rises, pharmaceutical spending overall is approximately 15% of total healthcare expenditure.”

Regarding Trump’s plans to repeal Obamacare, which could mean less volume for hospitals and curtail the expansion of Medicaid (which would negatively affect Medicaid managed-care companies), Perry was keen to state that the impact on the Manulife MPF Healthcare Fund would be negligible, as she has zero exposure to these firms. BM

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致力於健康護理行業的先驅

宏利一向堅持為強積金成員提供多元化的投資選擇,公司藉此於今屆《指標》年度基金大獎的行業股票 – 健康科學類別中奪得「同級最佳」大獎。

宏利擁有超過150萬名強積金客戶,反映大部份成員可自行選擇強積金服務供應商時,均會將宏利列作首選。宏利致力於豐富其強積金平台,以提供多元化的投資選擇,而宏利MPF康健護理基金便是其產品多元化的極佳例子。

當談及基金的主要特性及宏利的投資風格如何惠及成員時,宏利資產管理執行總監兼組合經理吳旻(Mindy Perry)指出:「我們是醫療護理板塊的長期投資者,不會盲目追隨潮流,這便是關鍵所在。此外,我們亦致力發掘業務多元發展及具備可持續營運模式的公司。藥物定價存在壓力,亦驅使我們繼續專注於真正創新的領域,例如較少受藥價下降影響的癌症和慢性疾病領域。」

「基金的地區配置反映了我們認為最有吸引力的市場。根據往績,擁有強大管理團隊、具穩健回報潛力,以及可持續提供利潤增長的美國醫療企業中,不乏這些吸引的投資機會。我們亦正於定價壓力最低的地區及醫療護理分類板塊中尋覓投資良機。」

美國市場的定價優勢

吳旻更深入地分析美國市場:「傳統上,美國享有最優越的定價環境,因為這是唯一一個擁有自由定價的市場。美國藥物價格每年上漲約5-10%,而大多數其他國家和地區,藥物價格卻每年都遭到下調。儘管特朗普對藥物價格作出不利言論,但我們仍認為美國的藥物定價較其他國家更具優勢。」

分散風險

吳旻繼續談論基金配置,在投資生物科技公司的方面,宏利採取穩健的立場:「大部份小型生物科技公司僅依賴單一研發藥物,一旦藥物不成功,公司便會徹底失敗。我們對這類型的公司保持警惕,因為其成功的機率非常低。我們以質量為重點,不希望令投資者承受小型生物科技公司所帶來的波動和風險。」

保持警惕

吳旻續稱,美國市場之外,新興市場正迅速發展,而且擁有巨大增長潛力。然而,在大多數新興市場中,價格限制正對收入及利潤構成壓力。「即使如此,我們仍然密切關注新興市場,若情況好轉,我們將成為首批進軍這些市場的投資公司。」她補充道。

穩操勝劵

「我們相信,未來數年醫療總開支將高速增長,因此,醫療板塊的投資潛力十分吸引。當然短期內股價的表現難以預計,但展望未來,我們有信心市場將穩步拓展。」

法律門檻

不過,醫療行業亦正面臨一些迫切的挑戰,其中最值得注意的是最近特朗普對藥物定價的猛烈抨擊。吳旻說:「當選總統特朗普在2017年1月11日批評藥物定價機制,向製藥業下戰書。他隨後更建議對聯邦醫療保險(Medicare)藥物的定價實行投標機制。惟在具體細節公布前,我們還不清楚這種機制將如何運作。Medicare不能直接與製藥商談判藥物價格,否則即屬違法。若要修改法律,特朗普須要在國會取得其他共和黨員的支持。」

吳旻解釋,由於共和黨員普遍對製藥業的取態友好,特朗普要取得足夠支持以修改法律將困難重重。此外,Medicare 的D部份處方藥保險計劃(政府唯一真正有影響力的部份)僅佔總藥物開支的25%。

藥價升幅似高實低

進一步探討藥物價格時,吳旻指出,市場誤以為藥物價格每年上漲超過10%,「事實上,標價的升幅與淨價的升幅存在很大差距,藥物公司最終能保留多少升幅亦很難說。大部份價格漲幅其實均以回贈形式回饋客戶。最新數據顯示,雖然藥物平均標價上漲約10%,扣除回贈後的實際升幅其實只有2.5%。此外,即使名牌藥物的價格持續上漲,藥物開支亦只佔醫療總開支約15%。」

特朗普擬廢除奧巴馬的醫改計劃,意味著醫院的購藥量可能會減少並將會阻礙醫療補助計劃(Medicaid)的擴張(而這將對Medicaid管理的醫療公司產生負面影響)。吳旻強調宏利MPF康健護理基金並無投資於受影響的公司,故受這些事件對基金的影響十分輕微。 BM

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