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Tickers in this Article: MRK, NVS, JNJ, SPY, XLV
Some of the biggest health care names are now offering some of the best fundamental numbers in the sector - not to mention the broader market as a whole. And while that may be no surprise to those who have their eyes glued to the investment media and know the pharma/home care group intimately, what follows may be a surprise for the average investor.

IN PICTURES: 4 More Can't-Miss Health Deductions

Here are three of the biggest, best names in health care, each with a market capitalization in excess of $100 billion, trading with price/earnings ratios and dividend yields superior to the S&P 500, as represented by the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY).

Gargantuan Global Pharma Stock
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is one name in the field that needs no introduction. The company manufactures everything from soap and band-aids to pharmaceuticals for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. In the last year, the company's shares have risen by 5.4%, a slightly poorer showing than the health care group as a whole, as measured by the sector's proxy - the Health Care SPDR ETF (NYSE:XLV), which climbed 8.8% over the same period. That, of course, doesn't include JNJ's dividend, which currently pays shareholders 3.4%, bringing the stock up into line with the ETF's overall return.

Johnson & Johnson shares trade with a P/E of 13.2 times last year's earnings. The company has grown earnings at an impressive 12.2% rate for the last ten years. Johnson & Johnson is the world's largest health care firm, with a market cap of $176 billion.

Big Dividend and Low P/E
Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) is another household name with an emphasis on the drug side of the health care ledger. Merck makes medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and also sells numerous commercially available consumer and animal health products. For the year, the company's shares are up over 15% and pays an additional 4.1% to stockholders in quarterly dividends.

Merck's market cap is $114 billion, and the shares currently trade at a very competitive 8.6 times last year's earnings. Merck is the fourth largest player in the drug manufacturing industry. In the last decade, Merck's management team has guided the company to an annual EPS growth rate of 8.72%.

Cheese, Chocolate, Watches and Drugs
The last of the best in the health care field is Swiss-based Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), with a market cap of $133 billion. The company's shares trade with a P/E of 13.6 and offer an annual 3.4% dividend yield.

Novartis shares are up over 12% on the year. In the last decade the company's EPS numbers have improved by 9.25% annually. (HMOs? PPOs? CDHPs? We'll clear up the confusion so you can find the right coverage. Read How To Choose A Healthcare Plan.)

The Wrap
For those who love large-cap stocks the above three names are some of the best on offer. At this point, the health care sector's prognosis appears once again vital, strong and potentially very lucrative.

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