Three "Triple Play" Healthcare Stocks

By Aryeh Katz | May 01, 2010 AAA

With the passage of new health care legislation, it's interesting to note the behavior of the health care sector this latest quarter. While many of the group's stocks have beaten analyst expectations on the earnings and revenue fronts, it wasn't clear if any would also be raising guidance numbers for the coming quarter and year.

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Yet, there were several that managed just that. Below, we list those companies that registered the highly sought after 'triple play', scoring beats on EPS and revenue numbers, and raising guidance for the coming quarter.

Batting 800
UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (NYSE:UNH) stock is up nearly 32% on the year. That's slightly better than the sector as a whole, as represented by the iShares Dow Jones US Healthcare ETF (NYSE:IYH), which rose only 31% over that same period.

The company was one of only three health care stocks to score a 'triple play' this earnings season. EPS rose by 19% over the same quarter last year, beating analyst estimates handily. The street had been expecting 68 cents - UNH delivered 81.

UnitedHealth offers health insurance to individuals, families and corporations, as well as physicians and other health care professionals. Investors in the company's IPO a quarter century ago have seen a return in excess of 20,833%. The company continues its growth and recently was engaged in a large acquisition.

Beating Coke
St. Jude Medical, Inc. (NYSE:STJ) is in the business of manufacturing and marketing a wide array of products related to cardiovascular health, including therapeutic and surgery-related devices. In the last year the shares have gained 23%, and since 1978, an eye-popping 97,800%. Hard to believe, but this handily beats one of the most popular stocks of all time, Coca Cola, Inc. (NYSE:KO), over the same period by a wide margin. Coke gained only 3400%.

This quarter, STJ scored a triple play with EPS numbers beating same quarter 2009 results by 26%.

Better Than Human
Humana, Inc.
(NYSE:HUM) is the last healthcare outfit to record a triple play this earnings season. The company's shares have returned over 60% for the year, making it a better performer than the other triple play candidates and this stock beat the major market indexes, including the Nasdaq, which turned in a 45% return for the period, as measured by the PowerShares QQQ Trust (Nasdaq:QQQQ).

Humana shares went public in 1993 and have since returned nearly 500%.

The Wrap
Momentum investors take special interest in triple play performers, usually driving the shares higher until guidance figures are lowered or EPS or revenue numbers record a miss. (Thinking about a career in investment banking? Check out Top Things To Know For An Investment Banking Interview.)

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