Market Overview

St. Jude, Novo Nordisk and Other Health Care Stocks Worth a Look Now

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While the fate of the 2010 health care reform law may rest in the hands of the Supreme Court, the nation's focus on health care has returned for the moment. For investors, the following health care picks all pay a dividend and have seen double-digit percentage growth in their share price since the beginning of the year. They also all have healthy return on equity numbers, strong long-term EPS growth forecasts, and consensus buy recommendations from analysts.

Chemed (NYSE: CHE) is more than 22% higher than at the beginning of the year but still down more than 3% from a year ago. The Cincinnati-based home health care company recently declared its 163rd consecutive quarterly dividend. It has a market cap of $1.2 billion, a long-term EPS growth forecast of 12.5% and a return on equity of 19.6%. The stock has outperformed Amedisys (NASDAQ: AMED) but underperformed Lincare Holdings (NASDAQ: LNCR) over the past six months.

See also: Top Four Stocks in the Home Health Care Industry with the Highest ROE

Cigna (NYSE: CI) shares are trading almost 11% higher than at the beginning of the year. CEO David Cordani has been downplaying the likely impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law. The Connecticut-based health insurer has a $13.3 billion market cap and P/E and PEG ratios lower than the industry average. The dividend yield is less than 0.1%. Year to date, the stock's performance has been in line with the broader markets.

Coviden (NYSE: COV) shares are trading more than 20% higher year to date after pulling back more than 5% from a recent 52-week high. The Dublin-based global health care products company recently announced the acquisition of medical device maker SuperDimension. Covidien has a market cap of $26.0 billion and a dividend yield of 1.7%. Over the past six months, the stock has outperformed competitors Becton, Dickson (NYSE: BDX) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

See also: Coviden to Buy SuperDimension for $300 Million

Mindray Medical International's (NYSE: MR) share price is more than 26% higher year to date and near the 52-week high. The company reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter revenues and higher net income. The Chinese company has a market cap of $3.7 billion. The long-range EPS growth forecast is 14.9% and the dividend yield is 0.4%. Year to date, the stock has outperformed the likes of Baxter International (NYSE: BAX) and Coviden, as well as the broader markets.

Novo Nordisk (NYSE: NVO) is up almost 25% year to date and shares are trading near the 52-week high. In the past five years, the Danish pharmaceutical company has seen growth of nearly 25% per year. The $97.8 billion market cap company has a dividend yield of 1.7%. The operating margin is much better than the industry average and the return on equity is 45.9%. The stock has outperformed competitors such as Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) over the past six months.

St. Jude Medical (NYSE: STJ) saw its share price rise almost 27% in the first few weeks of the year but it has pulled back about 3% since. The medical device maker recently settled a royalty-related suit with Kensey Nash (NASDAQ: KNSY). St. Jude's market cap is $13.7 billion and its dividend yield is 2.2%. Sales have risen 11.2% over the past five years. The stock has outperformed competitors Boston Scientific (NYSE: BSX) and Medtronic (NYSE: MDT) year to date.

See also: Kensey Nash Announces Mediated Settlement with St. Jude Medical

Universal Health Services (NYSE: UHS) is almost 11% higher year to date but the share price has yet to fully recover from its plunge back in August. This operator of hospitals and health centers posted better-than-expected Q4 earnings. It has a return on equity of 18.6% and the long-term EPS growth forecast is 16.1%. The market cap is $4.2 billion and its dividend yield is 0.5%. The stock has outperformed peers HCA (NYSE: HCA) and Tenet Health Care (NYSE: TCH) over the past six months.

ACTION ITEMS:

Bullish: Investors interested in health care companies with healthy dividends may want to consider the following trades:

  • AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) has a dividend yield of 6.1%.
  • GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) has a dividend yield of 5.0%.
  • Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) has a dividend yield of 4.9%.
  • Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) has a dividend yield of 4.5%.
Bearish:

Traders may prefer to consider these alternative positions:

  • ProShares UltraShort Health Care (NYSE: RXD) is trading near a 52-week low.
  • ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech (NASDAQ: BIS) is trading near a 52-week low.
Neither Benzinga nor its staff recommend that you buy, sell, or hold any security. We do not offer investment advice, personalized or otherwise. Benzinga recommends that you conduct your own due diligence and consult a certified financial professional for personalized advice about your financial situation.

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