8. Biogen Idec ( BIIB) Company Profile: Biogen Idec is a biotechnology company, developing drugs for neurological disorders. 2011 Total Return: 40% Current Share Price: $95.85 Biogen's core franchise has been in autoimmune disorder drugs, principally Avonex, which was approved by the FDA in 1996 to treat multiple sclerosis (MS). Recent approval of a five-year marketing plan for the MS drug Tysabri in Europe and a positive study for Avonex have impressed Biogen's investors. Biogen also has a strong pipeline as it has several products already in or entering Phase III clinical trials. Its shares are up 70% over the past 12 months and have a three-year average annual return of 26%. The company has a $23 billion market value. For fiscal 2011, analysts estimate that Biogen will earn $5.87 per share and that that will grow by 8% to $6.34 in 2012. S&P analysts have a price target of $108 on its shares.
6. Intuitive Surgical ( ISRG) Company Profile: Intuitive Surgical designs, manufactures and markets its da Vinci robotic surgical systems, EndoWrist instruments and surgical accessories. 2011 Total Return: 42% Current Share Price: $ 374.97 S&P analysts put a $420 price target on its shares. It currently has a market value of $14.6 billion. Shares of Intuitive Surgical briefly topped $400 in July after second-quarter earnings. In the period, the company posted earnings of $2.91 per share on revenue of $426 million, both of which topped analysts' expectations. Revenue grew 34% in 2010, driven by sales of its new da Vinci system. For fiscal 2011, analysts estimate the company will earn $11.46 per share and that will grow by 18% to $13.51 in 2012, according to S&P. Analysts give the company six "strong buys" and nine "holds," according to TheStreet Ratings.
4. Cerner ( CERN) (CERN) Company Profile: Cerner is a provider of health-care information-technology systems. 2011 Total Return: 46% Current Share Price: $70.43 Cerner's Millennium software platform combines clinical, financial and administrative data that patients, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and physician offices can have access to in real time. The company operates in 25 countries but 84% of its revenue is derived from U.S. customers. After a strong second quarter, Cerner raised its full-year earnings outlook to a range of $1.80 to $1.83 per share, up from the consensus $1.73 forecast of analysts. S&P has an $80 price target on its shares. Its shares have an $11 billion market value. Analysts give the company 10 "strong buy" ratings, one "moderate buy," and seven "holds," according to TheStreet Ratings.
2. MasterCard ( MA) Company Profile: MasterCard services and supports credit, debit and related payment programs to financial institutions. 2011 Total Return: 49% Current Share Price: $338.44 Shares of MasterCard have been on a steady upward climb for the past three years, recently reaching a record of $354.85 on Sept. 20. Its shares have a five-year average annual return of an eye-popping 39%. Its earnings are up even though consumer spending is off due to high rates of unemployment and the weak economy. It is benefiting from a worldwide, secular trend toward card usage in lieu of cash and checks. In the second quarter, MasterCard's earnings were up 33% to $4.76 per share as revenue jumped 22%. S&P analysts put a 12-month $350 price target on its shares. It currently has a market value of $43 billion. MasterCard is a darling among institutional investors, who own 78% of its outstanding shares. During the second quarter, billionaire investor Warren Buffett doubled his stake in the card processor Analysts give it 20 "strong buy" ratings, four "moderate buys," and five "holds," according to TheStreet Ratings.