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 1.6%. By the end of trading, Merck rose $0.93 (2.0%) to $47.49 on average volume. Throughout the day, 12,439,920 shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 16,583,300 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $46.66-$47.49 after having opened the day at $46.88 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.56. Other companies within the Health Care sector that increased today were: Vertex Pharmaceuticals ( VRTX), up 61.9%, Catalyst Pharmaceutical Partners ( CPRX), up 56.7%, Healthways ( HWAY), up 17.0% and Anacor Pharmaceuticals ( ANAC), up 13.6%.
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Merck & Co., Inc. provides various health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products worldwide. Merck has a market cap of $141.1 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 23.4, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 13.7% year to date as of the close of trading on Thursday.

TheStreet Ratings rates Merck 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, expanding profit margins, notable return on equity and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Aoxing Pharmaceutical Company ( AXN), down 17.6%, American Caresource Holdings ( ANCI), down 11.9%, Atossa Genetics ( ATOS), down 10.1% and LipoScience ( LPDX), down 6.6% , were all laggards within the health care sector with Theravance ( THRX) 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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