AstraZeneca

(

AZN

) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs winner. The industry as a whole closed the day down 1.5%. By the end of trading, AstraZeneca rose 64 cents (1.5%) to $44.39 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 2.5 million shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.5 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $43.50-$44.39 after having opened the day at $43.79 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $43.75. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were:

Orexigen Therapeutics

(

OREX

), up 19.9%,

Chelsea Therapeutics International

(

CHTP

), up 12.1%,

Medgenics

(

MDGN

), up 10.1%, and

ACADIA Pharmaceuticals

(

ACAD

), up 9.9%.

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AstraZeneca PLC engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases worldwide. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $55.29 billion and is part of the

health care

sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 5.9, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 6.7 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 6.2% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are two analysts that rate AstraZeneca a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and five rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates AstraZeneca as a

buy

. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front,

Anthera Pharmaceuticals

(

ANTH

), down 70.7%,

Synta Pharmaceuticals

(

SNTA

), down 33.5%,

NeurogesX

(

NGSX

), down 22.2%, and

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

(

VRTX

), down 16.3%, were all losers within the drugs industry with

Gilead

(

GILD

) being today's drugs industry loser.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the drugs industry could consider

SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF

(

XPH

) while those bearish on the drugs industry could consider

ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech

(

BIS

).

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