Healthcare is probably the most defensive market sector the world over. People will always need access to healthcare - whether paid for or not - and the world's ageing population, as well as increasing wealth, can only lead to a rising demand for healthcare and healthcare services.
NMC Health(LSE: NMC) is a fantastic play on this theme. The company is a private healthcare services provider in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is one of the richest companies in the world with a GDP per capita of $67,700, compared to the UK's $42,500.
Rising demand for the company's services, coupled with both organic and inorganic growth has helped revenue more than double and pre-tax profit rise more than 150% over the past five years. Moreover, City analysts expect the company to report earnings per share growth of 29% this year, and 28% for 2018. If these targets are met, NMC will have achieved earnings growth of 250% in seven years.
However, it now looks as if the company is set to surpass these expectations. Figures released today for the six months ended 30 June show revenue growth of 34% year-on-year and adjusted net profit growth of 56%.
Further growth ahead?
NMC's existing presence in the UAE gives it a huge, stable base to expand from. Indeed, the company is growing into Saudi Arabia and Oman as well as opening fertility clinics around the world.
Put simply, there's no doubt that NMC has a long runway for growth ahead of it as expansion continues and more people use its facilities. These traits make the company the perfect stock to buy, forget and watch your profits grow. While the valuation of 29.9 times forward earnings might put some investors off, and the dividend yield of 0.6% leaves much to be desired, if the company's growth carries on at its current rate, earnings per share could reach 200p by 2021. Based on this estimate, the shares look attractive at current levels.
Vedanta Resources(LSE: VED) might not be investors' first choice when it comes to picking growth stocks, but the company does have a bright future ahead of it if City forecasts are to be believed.
Analysts have pencilled in earnings per share growth of 7,616% for the financial year ending 31 March 2018, as the firm rebounds from several terrible years between fiscal 2015 and 2017. For the year ending 31 March 2019, further earnings growth of 98% is expected. Based on these estimates shares in the company trade at a 2019 P/E of six and currently yield 5.4%.
Today the company revealed that it is on track to hit City forecasts in the years ahead. For the quarter to the end of June, earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation rose 48% while overall revenues grew 32%. Higher prices boosted revenues while actions over the past few years to reduce costs help the bottom line.
A strong operating performance helped Vedanta reduce overall gross debt by $1.3bn during the quarter, and according to the press release today, a further debt reduction of $385m has occurred since the end of June. With total cash and liquid investments of $7.4bn compared to gross debt of $16.8bn, the company is well capitalised, and further actions to reduce debt will only improve the financial situation. The stronger balance sheet will help secure the dividend and support further growth.
With Vedanta's outlook improving, the group's low valuation looks unwarranted.
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Rupert has no position in any of the 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