BAX), Medtronic ( MDT), Stryker ( SYK) and Edwards Life Sciences ( EW). Even if President Barack Obama were able to get everything he proposed from last Thursday's epic health-care summit, hardly anybody expects a contraction in health-care spending. If health-insurance reform fails to pass, legal price gouging can continue to pad the bottom lines of health-care companies. If reform passes with a strong mandate for Americans to buy insurance coverage, those same companies, which may still be able to keep prices high, could make even more by selling in higher volumes and serving more customers. This also favors the T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund ( PRHSX) and the Vanguard Health Care Fund ( VGHAX), both rated A-minus. The funds have large positions in Merck ( MRK). In the unlikely event that a bipartisan compromise reduces health-care expenses of individuals and businesses, or even manages to restrain the growth rate of health-care costs, U.S. companies can become more competitive in the global marketplace. Health care aside, there are economic signs of life budding in the U.S. Last week's durable-goods report for January showed a 3% increase in new orders, the second consecutive monthly increase. After a record 15 months of decreasing unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods, January unfilled orders reversed course and grew as inventories contracted for a 13th month. That reveals pent-up demand, especially in computers and electronic products, which had the largest inventory decrease in January, 1.2%. The outlook is corroborated by the U.S. Census Bureau's ratio of total business inventories to sales, which has fallen to pre-recession levels. Last Friday's revision of real gross domestic product to 5.9% from an earlier estimate of 5.7% for the fourth quarter was attributed to an acceleration in private inventory investments and exports. Investments in place now in broad-based large-capitalization domestic growth funds can pay off in the months ahead after the recovery takes hold.
The Putnam Voyager Fund ( PVOYX) culminated its journey with a rating of A. This fund diversifies assets across many sectors, including 25% in technology, 17% in financials, 14% in health care, 13% in consumer cyclicals, 7% in communications and 7% in consumer staples. Key technology holdings include Apple ( AAPL), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Cisco Systems ( CSCO). For more information, check out an explanation of our ratings. -- Reported by Kevin Baker in Jupiter, Fla.