NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Which health care stocks are the best buys for 2015?

The S&P 500 Health Care Sector Index is up 24% over the past year compared to the broader S&P 500 index, which is up 11% in the same time period.

TheStreet analyzed which mid-cap health care stocks present the best opportunity for investors looking for exposure to the sector.

TheStreet Ratings, TheStreet's proprietary stock rating tool, projects a stock's total return potential over a 12-month period including both price appreciation and dividends. Based on 30 major data points, TheStreet Ratings uses a quantitative approach to rating stocks. The model is both objective, using elements such as volatility of past operating revenues, financial strength, and company cash flows, and subjective, including expected equities market returns, future interest rates, implied industry outlook, and forecasted company earnings.

The 12 stocks on the list are all mid-cap stocks (market capitalizations between $1 billion and $5 billion) and have a "buy" rating, with an A or better grade from TheStreet Ratings.

Which mid-cap health care stocks should you target for the best returns? Click through to see which companies are top-rated stocks.

 

Acadia Healthcare Co. (ACHC - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 29.3%

Acadia Healthcare Company, Inc. develops and operates inpatient psychiatric facilities, residential treatment centers, group homes, and substance abuse facilities in the United States.

"We rate ACADIA HEALTHCARE CO INC (ACHC) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: ACHC Ratings Report

Atrion Corp. (ATRI - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 14.8%

Atrion Corporation, together with its subsidiaries, develops, manufactures, and sells fluid delivery devices, and ophthalmic and cardiovascular products for medical applications primarily in the United States and Canada.

"We rate ATRION CORP (ATRI) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, notable return on equity, reasonable valuation levels and solid stock price performance. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows weak operating cash flow."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: ATRI Ratings Report

 

Greatbatch (GB)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 13.3%

Greatbatch, Inc. is engaged in implantable medical and electrochem solutions businesses. It operates in two segments: Greatbatch Medical and QiG Group.

"We rate GREATBATCH INC (GB) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: GB Ratings Report

ICON (ICLR - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 37.5%

ICON Public Limited Company, a contract research organization, provides outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries in Ireland, Rest of Europe, the United States, and internationally.

"We rate ICON PLC (ICLR) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: ICLR Ratings Report

Sirona Dental Systems (SIRO)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 24.1%

Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. develops, manufactures, and markets dental equipment for dentists worldwide. It operates through four segments Dental CAD/CAM Systems, Imaging

Systems, Treatment Centers, and Instruments.

"We rate SIRONA DENTAL SYSTEMS INC (SIRO) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: SIRO Ratings Report

U.S. Physical Therapy (USPH - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A

2014 return: 19.4%

U.S. Physical Therapy, Inc., through its subsidiaries, operates outpatient physical therapy clinics in the

United States.

"We rate U S PHYSICAL THERAPY INC (USPH) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and growth in earnings per share. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company shows low profit margins."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: USPH Ratings Report

 

Cantel Medical Corp. CMN

Rating: Buy, A+

2014 return: 26.4%

Cantel Medical Corp. provides infection prevention and control products and services in the healthcare market.

"We rate CANTEL MEDICAL CORP (CMN) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, good cash flow from operations, expanding profit margins and increase in net income. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: CMN Ratings Report

STERIS (STE - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A+

2014 return: 34.2%

STERIS Corporation develops, manufactures, and markets infection prevention, contamination control, microbial reduction, and procedural support products and services for healthcare, pharmaceutical, scientific, research, industrial, and governmental customers worldwide.

"We rate STERIS CORP (STE) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, reasonable valuation levels, good cash flow from operations and expanding profit margins. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: STE Ratings Report

Teleflex (TFX - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A+

2014 return: 21.9%

Teleflex Incorporated designs, develops, manufactures, and supplies single-use medical devices for common diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in critical care and surgical applications worldwide. The company operates in three segments: Vascular, Anesthesia/Respiratory, and Surgical.

"We rate TELEFLEX INC (TFX) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth, solid stock price performance, growth in earnings per share, compelling growth in net income and reasonable valuation levels. Although no company is perfect, currently we do not see any significant weaknesses which are likely to detract from the generally positive outlook."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: TFX Ratings Report

Utah Medical Products (UTMD - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A+

2014 return: 2.6%

Utah Medical Products, Inc. produces and markets medical devices for the healthcare industry.

"We rate UTAH MEDICAL PRODUCTS INC (UTMD) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and notable return on equity. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: UTMD Ratings Report

West Pharmaceutical Services (WST - Get Report)

Rating: Buy, A+

2014 return: 8.7%

West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. develops, manufactures, and sells components and systems for the packaging and delivery of injectable drugs, as well as delivery system components for the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and consumer products industries.

"We rate WEST PHARMACEUTICAL SVSC INC (WST) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its increase in stock price during the past year, growth in earnings per share, increase in net income, revenue growth and largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had somewhat disappointing return on equity."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: WST Ratings Report

 

 

- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.