Novartis AG (NVS): Today's Featured Drugs Leader

Novartis ( NVS) pushed the Drugs industry higher today making it today's featured drugs leader. The industry as a whole closed the day down 0.3%. By the end of trading, Novartis rose $1 (1.8%) to $57.36 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 2.5 million shares of Novartis exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.6 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $56.92-$57.45 after having opened the day at $57.01 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $56.36. Other companies within the Drugs industry that increased today were: pSivida ( PSDV), up 28%, Rexahn Pharmaceuticals ( RNN), up 20.6%, Pluristem Therapeutic ( PSTI), up 19%, and Bacterin International Holdings ( BONE), up 17.7%.

Novartis AG, through its subsidiaries, engages in the research, development, manufacture, and marketing of healthcare products worldwide. Novartis has a market cap of $136.04 billion and is part of the health care sector. The company has a P/E ratio of 14.9, below the average drugs industry P/E ratio of 15.8 and below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 1.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are six analysts that rate Novartis a buy, one analyst rates it a sell, and one rates it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Novartis as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its attractive valuation levels, good cash flow from operations, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Anthera Pharmaceuticals ( ANTH), down 12.8%, Savient Pharmaceuticals ( SVNT), down 11.4%, Durect Corporation ( DRRX), down 11.2%, and Vivus ( VVUS), down 11.1%, were all laggards within the drugs industry with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ( TEVA) being today's drugs industry laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the drugs industry could consider SPDR S&P Pharmaceuticals ETF ( XPH) while those bearish on the drugs industry could consider ProShares UltraShort Nasdaq Biotech ( BIS).
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