More Flu Equals More Profit for Health-Care Companies

1/9/13 12:31PM EST

familyhasflu More Flu Equals More Profit for Health Care Companies

Info from the Centers for Disease Control suggests this winter will be the worst cold and flu season in the past 10 years, as more than 40 states have already reported widespread influenza-related visits at clinics and hospitals. Flu-related searches on Google have also risen each week since early December and are now about 200 percent higher than one year ago.

This year’s strain appears to be similar to the one we saw back in 2003,” said ISI Group health care analyst Ross Muken in an e-mail to CNBC. “Flu hit early that season and was quite severe.

A bad flu season is good news for drug stores, however. Walgreens reported 5.5 million flu shots administered by the end of December—up from 5.3 million at the same time last year. Increased over-the-counter medications also spells increased profits for companies such as CVS and Rite Aid.

A less-obvious benefactor of the flu season is Kleenex-maker Kimberly-Clark, as well as other facial tissue manufacturers, such as Puffs’ producer Proctor & Gamble. More sniffles equal more sales and a bigger quarter for the companies.

[Image via Shutterstock]