Healthcare is one of the most defensive and lucrative industries in the world. The sector is also set for rapid growth over the next few decades as the world's population ages and incomes grow, especially in emerging markets, giving more customers access to the services offered by the healthcare industry.
Georgia Healthcare(LSE: GHG) and NMC Health(LSE: NMC) are two fantastic plays on this trend. Both companies operate healthcare facilities in rapidly growing emerging economies. NMC Health is a private health services provider in the United Arab Emirates while Georgia Healthcare provides services such as medical facilities and health insurance in the Georgian market.
Over the past few years, demand for these companies' services has surged and so have profits. Even though Georgia Healthcare has only been an independent public company for a little more than a year, this year the City expects the company to report a pre-tax profit of £25m, up 400% from 2014's reported figure of £5m. Over the same period sales have grown from £67m to £253m and earnings per share have exploded by 463% from 2.7p to 15.2p.
It looks as if this growth is set to continue. Today Georgia Healthcare released its first quarter results with an increase of profitability of 8.4% year-on-year to £4.3m. Group revenue exploded 157% year-on-year thanks to growth at the firm's pharmaceutical business after the consolidation of Pharmadepot. While the shares haven't moved much on this news, today's results show that it is on track to hit City forecasts for growth this year. Analysts have pencilled-in earnings per share growth of 27% for 2017 and 41% for 2018.
Even though shares in the company are currently trading at a relatively expensive forward P/E of 23, this valuation seems appropriate considering the group's projected growth. If earnings hit City targets the next two years, shares in Georgia Healthcare are trading at a 2018 P/E of 15.9 and PEG ratio of 0.4.
Middle East exposure
NMC has reported similar growth. This year City analysts expect the company to report revenues of £1.24bn, up from around £330m for 2012. Pre-tax profit is expected to hit £181m, up from £60m five years ago. Earnings per share have risen 240% over this period.
Considering this explosive earnings growth, it's no surprise shares in Georgia Healthcare, and NMC have risen by 87% and 105% respectively over the past 12 months.
Just like Georgia, shares in NMC also look cheap compared to the company's projected growth rate. City analysts believe the firm can grow earnings per share at 28% per annum for the next two years. The shares are currently trading at a forward P/E of 25.6 and a 2018 P/E of 19.9.
So overall, with City analysts expecting high double-digit earnings growth for these two healthcare providers, it looks as if the shares still have plenty of upside ahead of them and now could be the time for investors to buy in before it's too late.
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Rupert Hargreaves has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.