Merck & Co Inc

(

MRK

) pushed the Health Care sector higher today making it today's featured health care winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 3.1%. By the end of trading, Merck & Co Inc rose $1.10 (3.3%) to $34.26 on average volume. Throughout the day, 15.1 million shares of Merck & Co Inc exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 17 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $33.69-$34.31 after having opened the day at $33.74 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $33.16. Other companies within the Health Care sector that increased today were:

BG Medicine Inc

(

BGMD

), up 34.1%,

AVANIR Pharmaceuticals

(

AVNR

), up 27.5%,

Amicus Therapeutics Inc

(

FOLD

), up 20.5%, and

Rosetta Genomics

(

ROSG

), up 18.2%.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. Merck & Co Inc has a market cap of $103.05 billion and is part of the

drugs

industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.2, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 24.5 and above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 8% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck & Co as a

buy

. 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, increase in net income, good cash flow from operations and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity.

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

Health Care Select Sector SPDR

(

XLV

) while those bearish on the health care sector could consider

ProShares Ultra Short Health Care

(

RXD

).

null