President Donald Trump, in his second State of the Union address, called for a bipartisan infrastructure push on Tuesday night as well as for lower drug prices.
These efforts make shares of infrastructure-related companies as the winners of the address while leaving drug stocks as the biggest losers. Two other winners from the speech include defense stocks and the broader stock market.
“Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,” Trump told Congress and government leaders. “I know that Congress is eager to pass an infrastructure bill, and I am eager to work with you on legislation to deliver new and important infrastructure investment.”
“This is not an option. This is a necessity,” Trump added. During his presidential campaign, Trump called for spending $1.5 trillion over a decade for infrastructure projects, but major funding has not been forthcoming.
However, the odds of a big infrastructure-spending bill being approved by both chambers of Congress are still considered slim. Unless “President Trump specifically backs raising the gasoline or corporate tax rate, it is unlikely to see an agreement on a large deal,” Dan Clifton, head of policy research at Strategas Research Partners, wrote in a note.
Trump also pressured drug companies to lower medicine prices, stating it is “unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place.”
“I am asking Congress to pass legislation that finally takes on the problem of global freeloading and delivers fairness and price transparency for American patients,” Trump added. “We should also require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs way down.”
If the government passes legislation that makes drug companies lower their prices, shares of Merck and Pfizer, as well as related companies like CVS Health and UnitedHealth, could be under pressure, strategists warned.
Merck and Pfizer were lower in premarket trading Wednesday.
Trump’s remarks on drug pricing came after the administration proposed a ban on so-called backdoor deals cut by pharmaceutical companies with middlemen who get preferred status for their drugs through Medicare.
Right now, drug companies pay rebates to pharmacy benefit management (PBM) companies like CVS Health to include their medications on Medicare Part D plans. The Trump administration’s proposal would leave PBMs receiving just a flat fee for including drugs on those plans. It would also pass approximately $29 billion in drug-company rebates to consumers.
Two other winners from Tuesday night may very well be defense stocks and the broader stock market.
Trump boasted about the $716 billion set for military spending in 2019 and the $700 billion spent last year. He also said the U.S. secured a $100 billion increase in spending from NATO allies, adding the U.S. “will outspend and out-innovate all others by far.”
“Boasting about the current funding for defense spending and taking credit for additional contributions from allies, President Trump set a hawkish tone for continued robust levels of defense spending,” said Ed Mills, public policy analyst at Raymond James.
The broader market is also a winner from the speech as Trump slightly changed his tone around the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump also did not declare a national emergency in the speech to build the wall.
“There was no talk of using Commander in Chief military powers to build the wall, for instance,” said Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management. “That might be considered a win for investors, who prefer it when things do not escalate.”