This article has been updated with comments from Morgan Stanley.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In the third quarter of 2015, the S&P 500 Health Care index declined sharply compared to an already steep decline in the general market.

The S&P 500 Health Care index was down 11.% in the third quarter, compared with a loss of about 7% for the broader market, in what was the worst quarter for stocks in four years. In the first half of the year, S&P Health Care outpaced the S&P 500 by a whopping 15 percentage points, compared to the S&P 500's 1.2% increase.

The driver behind the decline in the health care sector seems to be concern that lawmakers will take on drug companies that charge high prices for their drugs by legislating price controls.

In a research note from Morgan Stanley (MS) - Get Report , Hilary Clinton's proposed actions to take on the big health care companies are front and center. Secretary Clinton, who is now running for President, believes health care companies should be "required to reinvest in research and development, cap out-of-pocket costs for patients, allow drug importation, demand higher rebates for Medicare dual eligible, and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with manufacturers."

That said, here were the worst of the worst in the third quarter. TheStreet paired the 10 best performing health care sector stocks with TheStreet Ratings to determine whether they really are poor investments going forward.

Here are the 10 stocks in the health care sector which had the worst third-quarter.

TheStreet
paired each of these tickers with TheStreet Ratings to let you know if you should buy, sell, or hold these best performing stocks. (Note: Because of TheStreet Ratings parameters, not all stocks on this list have a rating).


TheStreet Ratings, TheStreet's proprietary ratings tool, projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 32 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating over 4,300 stocks to predict return potential for the next year. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook and forecasted company earnings.

Buying an S&P 500 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 16.56% return in 2014 beating the S&P 500 Total Return Index by 304 basis points. Buying a Russell 2000 stock that TheStreet Ratings rated a "buy" yielded a 9.5% return in 2014, beating the Russell 2000 index, including dividends reinvested, by 460 basis points last year.

Check out which stocks were among the worst performers to date, counting down from 10 to one.

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10. Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (VRTX) - Get Report
Rating: Sell, D+
Market Cap: $25.5 billion
Year-to-date return: -15.66%

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated engages in discovering, developing, manufacturing, and commercializing small molecule drugs for patients with serious diseases in specialty markets.

TheStreet Ratings team rates VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC as a Sell with a ratings score of D+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC (VRTX) a SELL. This is driven by several weaknesses, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity and feeble growth in its earnings per share.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and greatly underperformed compared to the Biotechnology industry average. The net income has decreased by 18.5% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, dropping from -$159.38 million to -$188.85 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Biotechnology industry and the overall market, VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC's earnings per share declined by 14.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC reported poor results of -$3.14 versus -$2.29 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings (-$1.29 versus -$3.14).
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that VRTX's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • VRTX's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.92 is somewhat low overall, but it is high when compared to the industry average, implying that the management of the debt levels should be evaluated further. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio shows mixed results, the company's quick ratio of 3.21 is very high and demonstrates very strong liquidity.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: VRTX
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GILD

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9. Gilead Sciences, Inc.

(GILD) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, A+
Market Cap: $144.1 billion
Year-to-date return: -16.13%

Gilead Sciences, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, discovers, develops, and commercializes medicines in areas of unmet medical need in North America, South America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific.

TheStreet Ratings team rates GILEAD SCIENCES INC as a Buy with a ratings score of A+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate GILEAD SCIENCES INC (GILD) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity and attractive valuation levels. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 8.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 26.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • GILEAD SCIENCES INC has improved earnings per share by 32.7% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, GILEAD SCIENCES INC increased its bottom line by earning $7.38 versus $1.83 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($11.62 versus $7.38).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Biotechnology industry average. The net income increased by 22.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $3,655.59 million to $4,492.00 million.
  • The company's current return on equity greatly increased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of significant strength within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Biotechnology industry and the overall market, GILEAD SCIENCES INC's return on equity significantly exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: GILD
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CI

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8. Cigna Corporation

(CI) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, A-
Market Cap: $34.8 billion
Year-to-date return: -16.65%

Cigna Corporation, a health services organization, provides insurance and related products and services in the United States and internationally.

TheStreet Ratings team rates CIGNA CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of A-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate CIGNA CORP (CI) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, solid stock price performance and growth in earnings per share. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • CI's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 8.7%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.46, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels.
  • The return on equity has improved slightly when compared to the same quarter one year prior. This can be construed as a modest strength in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Health Care Providers & Services industry and the overall market, CIGNA CORP's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Investors have apparently begun to recognize positive factors similar to those we have mentioned in this report, including earnings growth. This has helped drive up the company's shares by a sharp 48.72% over the past year, a rise that has exceeded that of the S&P 500 Index. Regarding the stock's future course, although almost any stock can fall in a broad market decline, CI should continue to move higher despite the fact that it has already enjoyed a very nice gain in the past year.
  • CIGNA CORP has improved earnings per share by 6.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, CIGNA CORP increased its bottom line by earning $7.82 versus $5.20 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($8.63 versus $7.82).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: CI
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MCK

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7. McKesson Corporation

(MCK) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, B+
Market Cap: $43 billion
Year-to-date return: -17.69%

McKesson Corporation delivers pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and health care information technologies to the healthcare industry in the United States and internationally. The company operates in two segments, McKesson Distribution Solutions and McKesson Technology Solutions.

TheStreet Ratings team rates MCKESSON CORP as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate MCKESSON CORP (MCK) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations, impressive record of earnings per share growth and compelling growth in net income. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • MCK's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.4%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • MCKESSON CORP has improved earnings per share by 42.0% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, MCKESSON CORP increased its bottom line by earning $7.54 versus $6.08 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($12.72 versus $7.54).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Health Care Providers & Services industry average. The net income increased by 42.9% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $403.00 million to $576.00 million.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. Compared to other companies in the Health Care Providers & Services industry and the overall market, MCKESSON CORP's return on equity exceeds that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 149.45% to $454.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, MCKESSON CORP has also vastly surpassed the industry average cash flow growth rate of 14.15%.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MCK
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6. Abbott Laboratories

(ABT) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, B
Market Cap: $60 billion
Year-to-date return: -18.05%

Abbott Laboratories manufactures and sells health care products worldwide.

TheStreet Ratings team rates ABBOTT LABORATORIES as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

TST Recommends

We rate ABBOTT LABORATORIES (ABT) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Health Care Equipment & Supplies industry. The net income increased by 68.6% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $465.00 million to $784.00 million.
  • The revenue growth significantly trails the industry average of 34.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 2.2%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The current debt-to-equity ratio, 0.38, is low and is below the industry average, implying that there has been successful management of debt levels. To add to this, ABT has a quick ratio of 1.60, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • The gross profit margin for ABBOTT LABORATORIES is rather high; currently it is at 61.41%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Along with this, the net profit margin of 15.16% is above that of the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: ABT
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5. AbbVie Inc.

(ABBV) - Get Report


Rating: Hold, C
Market Cap: $90.1 billion
Year-to-date return: -19.02%

AbbVie Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceutical products worldwide.

TheStreet Ratings team rates ABBVIE INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate ABBVIE INC (ABBV) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, increase in net income and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself and generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 6.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.1%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Pharmaceuticals industry. The net income increased by 24.4% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, going from $1,098.00 million to $1,366.00 million.
  • ABBVIE INC has improved earnings per share by 22.1% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, ABBVIE INC reported lower earnings of $1.09 versus $2.56 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.26 versus $1.09).
  • After a year of stock price fluctuations, the net result is that ABBV's price has not changed very much. Although its weak earnings growth may have played a role in this flat result, don't lose sight of the fact that the performance of the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 Index, was essentially similar. Looking ahead, other than the push or pull of the broad market, we do not see anything in the company's numbers that may help reverse the decline experienced over the past 12 months. Despite the past decline, the stock is still selling for more than most others in its industry.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 5.65 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Even though the debt-to-equity ratio is weak, ABBV's quick ratio is somewhat strong at 1.12, demonstrating the ability to handle short-term liquidity needs.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: ABBV
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4. Biogen Inc.

(BIIB) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, B
Market Cap: $68.6 billion
Year-to-date return: -27.76%

Biogen Inc. discovers, develops, manufactures, and markets therapies for the treatment of neurological, autoimmune, and hematologic disorders in the United States and internationally.

TheStreet Ratings team rates BIOGEN INC as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate BIOGEN INC (BIIB) a BUY. This is driven by some important positives, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had lackluster performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • BIOGEN INC has improved earnings per share by 30.6% in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. The company has demonstrated a pattern of positive earnings per share growth over the past two years. We feel that this trend should continue. During the past fiscal year, BIOGEN INC increased its bottom line by earning $12.39 versus $7.82 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($15.81 versus $12.39).
  • The company, on the basis of net income growth from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly outperformed against the S&P 500 and exceeded that of the Biotechnology industry average. The net income increased by 29.8% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $714.51 million to $927.28 million.
  • Despite its growing revenue, the company underperformed as compared with the industry average of 8.9%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 7.0%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • BIIB's debt-to-equity ratio is very low at 0.05 and is currently below that of the industry average, implying that there has been very successful management of debt levels. To add to this, BIIB has a quick ratio of 1.57, which demonstrates the ability of the company to cover short-term liquidity needs.
  • Current return on equity exceeded its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of strength within the company. When compared to other companies in the Biotechnology industry and the overall market, BIOGEN INC's return on equity exceeds that of the industry average and significantly exceeds that of the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: BIIB
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3. Tenet Healthcare Corporation

(THC) - Get Report


Rating: Hold, C
Market Cap: $3.7 billion
Year-to-date return: -36.21%

Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a healthcare services company, primarily operates acute care hospitals and related healthcare facilities in the United States. It operates through two segments, Hospital Operations and Other, and Conifer.

TheStreet Ratings team rates TENET HEALTHCARE CORP as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate TENET HEALTHCARE CORP (THC) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself, unimpressive growth in net income and generally higher debt management risk.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • THC's revenue growth has slightly outpaced the industry average of 6.6%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 11.2%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Net operating cash flow has significantly increased by 54.13% to $410.00 million when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of 14.15%.
  • TENET HEALTHCARE CORP has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, TENET HEALTHCARE CORP turned its bottom line around by earning $0.32 versus -$1.20 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.15 versus $0.32).
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Health Care Providers & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 134.6% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$26.00 million to -$61.00 million.
  • The debt-to-equity ratio is very high at 18.37 and currently higher than the industry average, implying increased risk associated with the management of debt levels within the company. Along with the unfavorable debt-to-equity ratio, THC maintains a poor quick ratio of 0.75, which illustrates the inability to avoid short-term cash problems.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: THC
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2. Mylan N.V.

(MYL) - Get Report


Rating: Buy, B-
Market Cap: $19.8 billion
Year-to-date return: -40.67%

Mylan N.V., through its subsidiaries, develops, licenses, manufactures, markets, and distributes generic, branded generic, and specialty pharmaceuticals worldwide.

TheStreet Ratings team rates MYLAN NV as a Buy with a ratings score of B-. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate MYLAN NV (MYL) a BUY. This is driven by a number of strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, reasonable valuation levels, compelling growth in net income, expanding profit margins and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel its strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 6.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 29.1%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displaying stagnant earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Pharmaceuticals industry. The net income increased by 34.0% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from $125.20 million to $167.80 million.
  • MYLAN NV reported flat earnings per share in the most recent quarter. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MYLAN NV increased its bottom line by earning $2.34 versus $1.58 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.22 versus $2.34).
  • The gross profit margin for MYLAN NV is rather high; currently it is at 54.81%. It has increased from the same quarter the previous year. Regardless of the strong results of the gross profit margin, the net profit margin of 7.07% trails the industry average.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MYL
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MNK

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1. Mallinckrodt Public Limited Company

(MNK) - Get Report


Rating: Hold, C
Market Cap: $7.5 billion
Year-to-date return: -45.68%

Mallinckrodt Public Limited Company develops, manufactures, markets, and distributes specialty pharmaceutical products and medical imaging agents worldwide. The company operates through two segments, Specialty Pharmaceuticals and Global Medical Imaging.

TheStreet Ratings team rates MALLINCKRODT PLC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

We rate MALLINCKRODT PLC (MNK) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, increase in net income and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including disappointing return on equity and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself.

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth greatly exceeded the industry average of 6.7%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 47.8%. Growth in the company's revenue appears to have helped boost the earnings per share.
  • The net income growth from the same quarter one year ago has significantly exceeded that of the S&P 500 and the Pharmaceuticals industry. The net income increased by 340.7% when compared to the same quarter one year prior, rising from -$24.10 million to $58.00 million.
  • MALLINCKRODT PLC reported significant earnings per share improvement in the most recent quarter compared to the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, MALLINCKRODT PLC swung to a loss, reporting -$3.57 versus $0.06 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($7.38 versus -$3.57).
  • MNK has underperformed the S&P 500 Index, declining 21.36% from its price level of one year ago. The fact that the stock is now selling for less than others in its industry in relation to its current earnings is not reason enough to justify a buy rating at this time.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Compared to other companies in the Pharmaceuticals industry and the overall market, MALLINCKRODT PLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: MNK