First up is medical device maker Covidien ( COV), a stock that hasn't exactly rocketed so far this year. Since the calendar flipped over to January, shares of the firm have effectively stayed flat. At the same time, the S&P 500 has posted gains approaching 18%.
But Covidien could be due for a turn of fortunes. The boost in analyst expectations in the last week is an early indication of that.>>3 Biotech Stocks Under $10 Spiking Higher Covidien made a bold step at the start of this month, spinning off its pharmaceuticals business into Mallinckrodt ( MNK), the unit Tyco International bought in 2000 to increase its pharma offerings. The transaction makes Covidien a pure play medical device and imaging company and should boost margins now that the massive but commodity-like generic pharmaceuticals business is off of its plate. While a swelling R&D budget has put the squeeze on margins, it should pay off in spades in 2013, particularly as compelling new technologies like the Sonicision ultrasonic dissection tool get physicians excited. The firm's earnings call on Aug. 1 could be the catalyst Covidien needs to recover lost ground with the broad market. Investors should keep a close eye on that earnings call.