A fair amount of uncertainty continues to surround the healthcare sector as Congress debates how it can improve the existing system in the U.S., but that has not prevented a number of stocks in the space from storming up the charts. Here are four healthcare stocks on fire right now.

IN PICTURES: How To Make Your First $1 Million

Portfolio Cure-Alls
Year to date, shares of the pharmaceutical giant Novartis (NYSE: NVS) are only up 7%, but the stock has surged 59.7% since hitting a 52-week low in early March. The Switzerland-based company recently reported a solid third quarter in which operating income rose 12.8% on a 3.2% increase in net sales. The company maintains that it is on pace for record sales and earnings in 2009.

Novartis continues to benefit from its core pharmaceutical business segment, which has chalked up a score of new approvals in 2009 including its anti-cancer therapy, Afinitor. Looking forward, the company should have another strong quarter in Q4 with contributions from its H1N1 flu vaccine, which began being shipped at the end of September. Dividend investors may also find this stock attractive with its 3.2% dividend yield.

The small cap biotech Exelixis (Nasdaq: EXEL) has been on quite a run of its own. The stock has climbed more than 50% so far this year and has been gaining momentum from improving revenue streams from its collaborative agreements with Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE: SNY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY). Exelixis focuses on developing cancer therapies.

Slicing Up The Competition
Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG) has been a leader of innovation in the medical device industry since its da Vinci Surgical System was introduced in 1999. Today the company continues to find new growth in the field of robotic-assisted surgery and has seen its stock price move up 120% so far in 2009.

Intuitive Surgical is coming off of a Q3 in which EPS improved 14.2% on an 18.7% gain in revenue when compared to the company's year-ago quarter. ISRG saw revenue growth in each of its three business segments and was helped in particular by sales of its new da Vinci Si model surgical system. Intuitive Surgical's service revenue also moved higher as the company continues to grow its client base.

After resolving investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Florida Attorney General's Office earlier this year, shareholders of managed-care provider WellCare Health Plans (NYSE: WCG) have seen their investment take off. Year to date, the stock has gained 165%. Going into 2010, the company will have to overcome declining membership in its Medicare segment with gains from its Medicaid business and premiums.

Bottom Line
Healthcare stocks have not been precluded from participating in the recent rallies of the broader equity markets. These four stocks in particular have brushed aside any potential adversity that could arise from future legislation for the sector. Although each of these stocks is worthy of consideration, investors looking to add healthcare exposure to their portfolios should conduct their own due diligence before pulling the trigger. (Learn more about how to check up on the health of healthcare stocks in Investing In The Healthcare Sector.)

Use the Investopedia Stock Simulator to trade the stocks mentioned in this stock analysis, risk free!

Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    A Day in the Life of an Equity Research Analyst

    What does an equity research analyst do on an everyday basis?
  2. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged

    Find out about the PowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged ETF, and learn detailed information about characteristics, suitability and recommendations of it.
  3. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: ProShares Large Cap Core Plus

    Learn information about the ProShares Large Cap Core Plus ETF, and explore detailed analysis of its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  4. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares Core Growth Allocation

    Find out about the iShares Core Growth Allocation Fund, and learn detailed information about its characteristics, suitability and recommendations.
  5. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility

    Learn about the iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility exchange-traded fund, which invests in low-volatility equities traded on the U.S. stock market.
  6. Stock Analysis

    Should You Follow Millionaires into This Sector?

    Millionaire investors—and those who follow them—should take another look at the current economic situation before making any more investment decisions.
  7. Professionals

    What to do During a Market Correction

    The market has corrected...now what? Here's what you should consider rather than panicking.
  8. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Vanguard Mid-Cap Value

    Take an in-depth look at the Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF, one of the largest and most popular mid-cap funds in the U.S. equity space.
  9. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Schwab US Broad Market

    Take an in-depth look at the Schwab U.S. Broad Market ETF, an incredibly low-cost fund based on a wide selection of the U.S. equity market.
  10. Professionals

    Tips for Helping Clients Though Market Corrections

    When the stock market sees a steep drop, clients are bound to get anxious. Here are some tips for talking them off the ledge.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Equity

    The value of an asset less the value of all liabilities on that ...
  2. Hard-To-Sell Asset

    An asset that is extremely difficult to dispose of either due ...
  3. Sucker Yield

    When an investor has essentially risked all of his capital for ...
  4. PT (Perseroan Terbatas)

    An acronym for Perseroan Terbatas, which is Limited Liability ...
  5. Ltd. (Limited)

    An abbreviation of "limited," Ltd. is a suffix that ...
  6. BHD (Berhad)

    The suffix Bhd. is an abbreviation of a Malay word "berhad," ...
RELATED FAQS
  1. What is the difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital?

    The difference between called-up share capital and paid-up share capital is investors have already paid in full for paid-up ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Why would a corporation issue convertible bonds?

    A convertible bond represents a hybrid security that has bond and equity features; this type of bond allows the conversion ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does additional paid in capital affect retained earnings?

    Both additional paid-in capital and retained earnings are entries under the shareholders' equity section of a company's balance ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What types of capital are not considered share capital?

    The money a business uses to fund operations or growth is called capital, and there are a number of capital sources available. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between issued share capital and subscribed share capital?

    The difference between subscribed share capital and issued share capital is the former relates to the amount of stock for ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What happens to the shares of stock purchased in a tender offer?

    The shares of stock purchased in a tender offer become the property of the purchaser. From that point forward, the purchaser, ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

COMPANIES IN THIS ARTICLE
Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!