8 Health Care Buys Ahead of Earnings

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Pfizer ( PFE), Watson Pharmaceuticals ( WPI) and Mednax ( MD) are among the eight stocks reporting quarterly earnings next week.

Analysts' estimate these stocks, with minimum market capitalization of $1 billion, have upside potential ranging from 9% to 34%. On average, 66% of analysts have buy ratings on these stocks, and another 33% have hold ratings.

The stocks are listed below in order of their earnings release dates and upside potential.

8. Pfizer ( PFE) is a research-based global pharmaceutical company operating in two segments: biopharmaceutical and diversified. The company's diversified portfolio includes human and animal health products as well as nutritional products. Pfizer will announce third-quarter results on Nov. 1.

For 2011 third quarter, net income is estimated at $4.35 billion on sales of $16.48 billion, vs. net income of $4.37 billion recorded on $16.17 billion sales for the same period prior year, as per analysts polled by Bloomberg. Earnings per share are forecast at 56 cents for the quarter, against 54 cents in 2010 third quarter. Gross margin for the period is pegged at 80.20% as compared to 75.91% in the year-earlier period.

The company's board has approved its fourth-quarter dividend of 20 cents on common stock payable Dec. 6.

Of the 28 analysts covering the stock, 71% recommend a buy and 21% a hold. Analysts polled by Bloomberg expect the stock to gain an average 15.1% to $22.84 from current levels over the next 12 months.

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