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 0.7%. By the end of trading, Merck rose $1.08 (2.3%) to $47.90 on average volume. Throughout the day, 14,618,283 shares of Merck exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 18,781,000 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $46.49-$47.94 after having opened the day at $46.65 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $46.82. Other companies within the Health Care sector that increased today were: USMD Holdings ( USMD), up 17.1%, Verastem ( VSTM), up 13.9%, Savient Pharmaceuticals ( SVNT), up 12.7% and Delcath Systems ( DCTH), up 10.6%.
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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 $143.6 billion and is part of the drugs industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 24.3, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 15.4% year to date as of the close of trading on Wednesday. Currently there are 10 analysts that rate Merck a buy, 1 analyst rates it a sell, and 4 rate it a hold.

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, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins 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, Dynavax Technologies Corporation ( DVAX), down 13.0%, Rexahn Pharmaceuticals ( RNN), down 12.8%, Echo Therapeutics ( ECTE), down 12.7% and Cornerstone Therapeutics ( CRTX), down 11.4% , were all laggards within the health care sector with Aegerion Pharmaceuticals ( AEGR) 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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