Merck & Co Inc (MRK): Today's Featured Health Care Winner

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.

Merck ( MRK) pushed the Health Care sector higher today making it today's featured health care winner. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.5%. By the end of trading, Merck rose 72 cents (1.6%) to $44.60 on average volume. Throughout the day, 10.4 million shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 11.1 million shares. The stock ranged in a price between $43.54-$44.61 after having opened the day at $43.85 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $43.88. Other companies within the Health Care sector that increased today were: Vermillion ( VRML), up 39.5%, IsoRay ( ISR), up 24.7%, TrovaGene ( TROV), up 20.2%, and PharmAthene ( PIP), up 17.9%.
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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 $134.37 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 six 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.

On the negative front, Telik ( TELK), down 14.8%, Idera Pharmaceuticals ( IDRA), down 12.5%, Response Genetics ( RGDX), down 12%, and Oxygen Biotherapeutics ( OXBT), down 10.3%, were all laggards within the health care sector with Herbalife ( HLF) being today's health care sector laggard.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, 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).

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