We attended the 9th Annual SVB Leerink Global Healthcare Conference in New York from February 25 to 27, 2020, which hosted over 200 healthcare companies. As the spread of COVID-19 hit the markets this week, it was also the number one topic at the conference.
Implications for sales, supplies and products, as well as measures to control and contain the outbreak were widely debated. Everyone we talked to acknowledged that the virus outbreak has and will continue to have an impact but the important unanswered question is: how severe will it really be?
The MSCI World Healthcare NR Index returned -2.7% in February, while the MSCI World NR Index rose 2.6%. During the last week of the month, many sectors took a hit because of rising 10-year Treasury rates (now at their highest levels in a year), enhancing on one hand the attractiveness of bonds vs. Equities and on the other hand propelling cyclical stocks.
Healthcare started 2021 on a very positive note, outperforming most of the other sectors (Energy, 3.0%, being the sole exception). The MSCI World Healthcare Net Return (NR) Index gained 1.1% in January 2021, while the MSCI World NR Index declined 1.0%.
The MSCI World Healthcare Net Return (NR) Index rose by 9.0% in November 2020 and the MSCI World NR Index gained 12.8%. November was the best month for global equities year-to-date (12.8%), with cyclicals outperforming defensive sectors.