4 Stocks Pushing The Health Care Sector Higher

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

Two out of the three major indices are trading lower today with the Dow Jones Industrial Average ( ^DJI) trading up 14 points (0.1%) at 12,892 as of Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 12:00 PM ET. The NYSE advances/declines ratio sits at 1,435 issues advancing vs. 1,435 declining with 148 unchanged.

The Health Care sector currently sits down 0.1% versus the S&P 500, which is down 0.0%. Top gainers within the sector include Pfizer ( PFE), up 0.9%, UnitedHealth Group ( UNH), up 1.0% and Intuitive Surgical ( ISRG), up 0.9%. On the negative front, top decliners within the sector include Herbalife ( HLF), down 2.7%, DaVita HealthCare Partners ( DVA), down 1.7%, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ( TEVA), down 0.5% and Baxter International ( BAX), down 0.5%.

TheStreet Ratings group would like to highlight 4 stocks pushing the sector higher today:

4. AstraZeneca ( AZN) is one of the companies pushing the Health Care sector higher today. As of noon trading, AstraZeneca is up $0.53 (1.1%) to $46.63 on light volume Thus far, 367,175 shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $46.25-$46.75 after having opened the day at $46.36 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.10.

AstraZeneca PLC engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation, oncology, and infectious diseases worldwide. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $58.3 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 6.3, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are down 0.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there is 1 analyst that rates AstraZeneca a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates AstraZeneca as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, attractive valuation levels, expanding profit margins, increase in stock price during the past year and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income. Get the full AstraZeneca Ratings Report now.

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3. As of noon trading, Novartis ( NVS) is up $0.47 (0.8%) to $61.02 on light volume Thus far, 535,636 shares of Novartis exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.6 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $60.69-$61.17 after having opened the day at $60.81 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $60.55.

Novartis AG, through its subsidiaries, engages in the research, development, manufacture, and marketing of healthcare products worldwide. Novartis has a market cap of $146.9 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 16.1, below the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 5.9% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 6 analysts that rate Novartis a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 1 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, increase in stock price during the past year, 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 somewhat disappointing return on equity. Get the full Novartis Ratings Report now.

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2. As of noon trading, Alexion Pharmaceuticals ( ALXN) is up $0.99 (1.1%) to $94.90 on average volume Thus far, 519,556 shares of Alexion Pharmaceuticals exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1.3 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $93.06-$95.00 after having opened the day at $93.71 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $93.91.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company, engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of biologic therapeutic products in the United States, Europe, Latin America, Japan, and the Asia Pacific. Alexion Pharmaceuticals has a market cap of $18.3 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 83.2, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 31.3% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 14 analysts that rate Alexion Pharmaceuticals a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 4 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Alexion Pharmaceuticals as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, expanding profit margins, good cash flow from operations and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity. Get the full Alexion Pharmaceuticals Ratings Report now.

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1. As of noon trading, Merck ( MRK) is up $0.22 (0.5%) to $44.10 on light volume Thus far, 3.0 million shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 11.1 million shares. The stock has ranged in price between $43.54-$44.16 after having opened the day at $43.85 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $43.88.

Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products. Merck has a market cap of $134.4 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 20.1, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 16.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Tuesday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Merck a buy, no analysts rate it a sell, and 6 rate it a hold.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, increase in net income, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, reasonable valuation levels and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow. Get the full Merck Ratings Report now.

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If you are interested in one of these 4 stocks, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the health care sector could consider Health Care Select Sector SPDR ( XLV) while those bearish on the health care sector could consider ProShares Ultra Short Health Care ( RXD).

A reminder about TheStreet Ratings group: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model.

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