Are Ansell Limited and Primary Health Care Limited poised to run higher?

These healthcare sector companies are two solid defensive stocks for steady returns.

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Already into week two of the reporting season, it’s a good time for investors to review companies before they release half year results and be up to speed with any new developments or setbacks.

Apart from the financial figures, you will want to see how a company executed plans previously stated in the most recent annual report. Is the management sticking to the plan and are targets being hit on time and within budget?

Sometimes the benefits of a business investment or project take longer than a half year or year to achieve, so you want to know how the progress is.

Two stocks that I am looking forward to seeing the results of are Ansell Limited (ASX: ANN) and Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY).

—  Ansell, the leading producer of industrial and medical gloves as well as other protective wear, has grown earnings at a steady rate over the past five years. Financial year 2014 underlying net profits set a new high for the company. Analysts are forecasting earnings to continue rising solidly during the next several years.

More than 80% of revenue is generated overseas, with North America making up more than a third. Ansell could get an earnings boost from the weaker Aussie dollar with overseas earnings. The Aussie has been gaining against the euro, so the weak currency benefit could be offset somewhat. That said, the company is a steady grower for long-term investors who see the value of having a defensive stock in their portfolio.

—  Also a healthcare sector stock, Primary Health Care oversees a network of medical centres and pathology centres. It is number two in this area of healthcare overall after Sonic Healthcare Limited (ASX: SHL). Still, it is the number one provider of large-scale medical centres and the market leader for pathology services in Queensland, Victoria and WA. Primary is also the largest provider of general practice (GP) software, used by over 17,000 clinicians daily.

The healthcare provider is forecast to grow earnings an average annual 8.6% in the next two years. Dividend investors will also like the 4.2% fully franked yield Primary stock offers. Again, a solid performer fit for a long-term portfolio.

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Motley Fool contributor Darryl Daté-Shappard does not own shares in any company mentioned. 

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