CRASH: Is Ramsay Health Care Limited a buy at this share price?

In the last month the shares of private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) have sunk lower by around 11%.

The vast majority of this decline came last week when rival operator Healthscope Ltd (ASX: HSO) warned that it was experiencing weakness in private the hospital space.

That was enough to send Healthscope’s shares crashing lower by 23%, dragging Ramsay’s shares down along with it.

So after this sharp decline should investors buy Ramsay’s shares?

At 27x estimated FY 2017’s earnings I believe Ramsay has dropped to an attractive level and investors with a long-term view could do very well from an investment today.

There will of course be doubts that it too will be subject to the weakness Healthscope is experiencing at present. But due to its diverse operations I don’t believe it will be as negatively impacted as its rival if this is the case.

After all Healthscope earns 85% of its revenue from its Australian hospitals, whereas Ramsay earns just over half of its revenue from its Australia/Asia segment.

In the long-term I feel that Ramsay is positioned perfectly for growth thanks to a number of tailwinds such as ageing populations, longer life expectancy, and increased chronic disease burden.

According to management the number of people worldwide aged over 60 will triple by 2050. This could keep demand for its 221 hospitals across six countries growing at a solid rate for decades to come.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ramsay expand its presence into other countries as well during the next few years. The company has had its eye on the China market for some time and although it pulled out of a joint venture there this year, I suspect it won’t be long until we see Ramsay in China.

Considering the size of China’s population and its growing middle class, I believe it has the hallmarks of becoming an important part of the company’s future.

Overall I feel its shares could remain volatile in the short-term, but I am optimistic that the company’s AGM on November 9 will put the market at ease. For now I class Ramsay as a buy.

If you're looking for other growth shares to invest in then I would highly recommend taking a look at these quick growing shares. Each has extremely strong growth prospects and would be a great investment today in my opinion.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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