Viewing this summer's decline in health-care stocks as a buying opportunity, investors have been pouring millions of dollars into mutual funds that invest in drug, hospital and other medical issues, according to data gathered for Money magazine's Small Investor Index.
Despite the strong performance of the medical sector earlier this year, investors withdrew $301 million from health-care mutual funds from January through July, according to AMG Data Services of Arcata, Calif. But since July, when health-care funds fell an average of 8.5 percent, investors have pumped in $192 million of fresh cash. For example, $2.4 billion Vanguard Specialized Healthcare has taken in $118 million over the past two months. Similarly, $600 million G.T. Global Health Care fund, which saw net withdrawals for the first seven months of the year, enjoyed a rush of new money in August and September.Investors who put money into health-care funds recently have done well: The average health-care fund is up 12.9 percent since the end of July. And many analysts believe the outlook for the industry is excellent.
"There are bound to be stumbling blocks along the way, but investors should stick with these investments," said Adam Berg-man, equity analyst at Scott & Stringfellow in Norfolk, Va. "With the aging of the population and people living longer, the health-care market is only going to expand."
Last week, the Money Index, which tracks the value of the typical investor's portfolio, rose $105 to a record $65,457. Stocks gained $78, and bonds returned $6. Bank certificates of deposit and money-market mutual funds added $13. Gold climbed $4.