AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Today's Featured Health Care Winner

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AstraZeneca ( AZN) 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, AstraZeneca rose $0.66 (1.3%) to $51.31 on average volume. Throughout the day, 1,781,158 shares of AstraZeneca exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,688,200 shares. The stock ranged in a price between $51.24-$51.86 after having opened the day at $51.86 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $50.65. Other companies within the Health Care sector that increased today were: Omeros Corporation ( OMER), up 68.2%, GW Pharmaceuticals PLC ADR ( GWPH), up 56.7%, Mirati Therapeutics ( MRTX), up 37.1% and NovaBay Pharmaceuticals ( NBY), up 24.6%.

AstraZeneca PLC engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of prescription medicines for cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neuroscience, infection, oncology, and respiratory and inflammation diseases worldwide. AstraZeneca has a market cap of $63.3 billion and is part of the drugs industry. Shares are up 7.0% year to date as of the close of trading on Friday. Currently there is 1 analyst that rates AstraZeneca a buy, 2 analysts rate it a sell, and 5 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, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and increase in stock price during the past year. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had sub par growth in net income.

On the negative front, Transcept Pharmaceuticals ( TSPT), down 12.2%, Neostem ( NBS), down 10.6%, Progenics Pharmaceuticals ( PGNX), down 9.9% and Imprimis Pharmaceuticals ( IMMY), down 9.8% , were all laggards within the health care sector with Sarepta Therapeutics ( SRPT) 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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