NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- HCA Holdings ( HCA), Thermo Fisher ( TMO), Covidien ( COV), Mednax Inc. ( MD), Bio-rad Laboratories ( BIO), Pharmasset. ( VRUS), UnitedHealth Group ( UNH) and United Therapeutics Corporation ( UTHR) have average buying rating of 83%, according to a Bloomberg consensus.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ( TEVA), a leading generic player, recently won U.S. anti-trust approval for a deal to acquire specialty drug maker Cephalon ( CEPH). In the preceding quarter, Thermo Fisher ( TMO), a serving science major, reported completing the acquisition of Phadia, a leader in blood tests, in a deal valued $3.5 billion, primarily to boost its presence in high-growth specialty diagnostic regions. Several pharma majors with strong balance sheets, relatively less leverage and higher cash generating capacities can consider acquisitions as the segment's valuations have declined in the last couple of months.

We have identified eight health care stocks that, according to analysts, could outperform their peers and the broader market indices. These stocks have upside potential of 20% to 38% with a mean upside value of 30%.

In contrast, pharma giants Johnson & Johnson ( JNJ), Abbott Laboratories ( ABT), Bristol Myers Squibb ( BMY) and Eli Lilly ( LLY) have upsides of -2% to 10%, according to analysts' estimates.

These eight stocks are listed in ascending order of buy ratings.

8. United Therapeutics Corporation ( UTHR) is a U.S. -based biotechnology company developing and manufacturing products to treat patients with chronic and life-threatening conditions.

Net income for the second quarter of 2011 was reported at $73.9 million compared to $37.7 million in the corresponding quarter in 2010. Gross profit was $162.4 million, improving from $119.2 million during the same quarter last year. Total revenue was $183.8 million, increasing from $134.7 million in the earlier-year quarter.

The company has maintained its full-year revenue guidance for its commercial products Remodulin, Tyvaso and Adcirca, and expects related revenues to be 5% above or below $750 million.

Analysts expect the stock to deliver 37% over the next one year and affirm a buy rating of 59%. The stock is trading at 8 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

7. HCA Holdings ( HCA) operates hospitals and provides healthcare and related services through a network of outpatient facilities, clinics and acute care centers.

For 2011 second quarter, net income totaled $229 million, vs. $293 million in the same quarter prior year. Lower profit during the quarter is attributed to a pre-tax loss on retirement of $75 million debt.

Revenue increased to $8.1 billion from $7.8 billion in the comparable quarter last year. Patient volume grew 3.7%, supporting top-line. At the end of the quarter, HCA had 164 hospitals and 111 free-standing surgery centers under operation.

Operating cash flow increased 71.6% to $748 million, as of June 2011. The stock is expected to deliver 38% return in the next one year with 80% analysts rating the stock a buy, according to a Bloomberg consensus. The stock is trading at 7.6 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

6. Mednax ( MD) provides physician services including neonatal, pediatric subspecialty, maternal-fetal and anesthesia care.

Operating income improved 13.4% in second quarter 2011, exceeding revenue growth on successful integration of its newly acquired physician group practices into its established operations infrastructure. The company reported 12.7% growth in revenue to $393.4 million. Operating margin increased 15 bps to 23.7%, year-on-year. Overall, net income grew 13.3% to $55.9 million.

Cash and cash equivalents stood at $24 million and cash flow generated from operations was $95.3 million. The company guides third-quarter earnings to range from $1.15 to $1.20 per share, assuming that total same-unit revenue will grow 2% to 4% from the prior-year period. The stock is trading at 14.5 times its estimated 2011 earnings. Analysts expect 21% upside over the next one year with buy rating of 81%.

5. UnitedHealth Group ( UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company offering products and services through two platforms: UnitedHealthcare - provides healthcare coverage and benefits; and Optum - offers IT-enabled health services.

Net margin during the second quarter of 2011 expanded 20 bps to 5% from 4.8% in the second quarter of 2010. Cash flow from operations increased 65% year-over-year to $1.2 billion from $723 million in the corresponding quarter of 2010.

Revenue for the second quarter was $25.2 million, up 8.5% from $23.26 million in the same period prior year. Revenue from UnitedHealthcare increased nearly 8%, while Optrum reported 19% growth during the quarter.

Annualized ROE of 19% increased from 18% in the second quarter of 2010. The company's debt to debt-plus-equity ratio was 29%, down 1% from the previous quarter.

The stock has delivered 28% since the start of 2011. As per a Bloomberg consensus, of the 25 analysts covering the stock, 21 rate a buy and 4 a hold. Analysts expect the stock to deliver 30% in the next one year.

4. Bio-rad Laboratories ( BIO) is U.S.-based company engaged in the manufacture and supply of products for the life science research, healthcare, analytical chemistry and other markets. The company operates in two segments: life science and clinical diagnostics.

Earnings per share for the second quarter of 2011 were $1.41 per share, higher than $1.35 per share reported during the same period last year. Net income for 2011 second quarter was $40 million versus $38 million in the corresponding quarter of 2010.

Revenue was $521.7 million, up 11.5% from the comparable quarter 2010. Second-quarter gross margin was 56.2% versus 57.4% reported during the same quarter of the earlier year.

Analysts expect the stock to deliver 37% over the next one year. The stock has 86% buy ratings and is trading at 16.2 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

3. Covidien ( COV) is a global healthcare products company operating through three segments: medical devices, pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

Foreign exchange gains boosted net revenue during the third quarter of fiscal 2011. Net revenue was $2.93 billion, increasing 14% from $2.56 billion in the comparable quarter prior year. Revenue from the medical devices segment improved 22%.

Net income increased 14% during the quarter to $535 million. Third-quarter 2011 gross margin rose 1.5% year-over-year to 57.1% due to improved business mix, accrued benefits of its restructuring programs and higher foreign exchange gains.

Jose' E. Almeida, the company's CEO, said in a press statement, "We also funded incremental investments in our business that were fueled by our strong cash flow and that should drive future growth. In the last 12 months, we have returned over $1 billion in cash to shareholders through dividends and share buybacks, representing more than 50% of our free cash flow. Our overall Company performance remains on plan, and we are confident we will have a strong finish to the fiscal year."

Analysts expect the stock to deliver 32% return in the next one year with a buy rating of 88%. The stock is trading at 11.6 times its 2011 earnings.

2. Pharmasset ( VRUS) is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company that develops drugs to treat viral infections.

The company signed a clinical collaboration with Tibotec and was issued a US patent for PSI-7977 during the first half of 2011. On the future plans, Schaefer Price, the company's CEO, said, "The second half of 2011 holds a number of important clinical milestones for us, as we plan to report SVR12 data from both the PROTON and ELECTRON trials. In addition, we plan to initiate the QUANTUM study, our first SVR-focused, interferon free trial with PSI-7977 and PSI-938 in the third quarter."

Revenue for 2011 third quarter was $0.2 million, flat compared to the same quarter in 2010. Net cash used in operating activities was $22.3 million with cash and cash equivalents of $188.2 million.

Of the 18 analysts covering the stock, 16 rate a buy and 2 maintain a hold, as per Bloomberg consensus. Analysts expect the stock to deliver 20% return over the next one year.

1. Thermo Fisher ( TMO) provides analytical instruments, equipment, reagents and consumables, software and services for the research, manufacturing, analysis, discovery and diagnostics markets.

Adjusted operating margin for the second quarter increased 40 basis points year-over-year to 17.6%, while earnings grew 22% during the same period. Revenue grew 12% to $2.90 billion.

Regarding the deployment of capital, Marc N. Casper, CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in a press statement, "We also continue to effectively deploy our capital to create shareholder value. We've spent $2.1 billion on acquisitions completed so far this year. In addition to creating a leading chromatography portfolio with Dionex, we expanded our range of laboratory consumables with Sterilin, and last week acquired TREK Diagnostic Systems to broaden our microbiology offerings. Finally, we deployed $225 million of capital during the quarter to buy back our stock."

The company has $1.3 billion in cash, cash equivalents and its operating cash flows stand at $355 million. Of the 18 analysts covering the stock, 17 rate a buy, as per a Bloomberg consensus. Analysts expect the stock to deliver 28% in the next one year. The stock is trading at 13 times its estimated 2011 earnings.

>>To see these stocks in action, visit the 8 Health Care Stocks to Buy portfolio on Stockpickr.