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5 Greatest Health-Care Stocks of All Time

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Health-care stocks have always benefited from the powerful demographic forces of steady population growth and longer life expectancy. Indeed, the population of the U.S. has more than tripled over the past 100 years. And the average American can expect to live to the age of 79, up from 51 a century ago. Those trends have given the health-care sector a steady influx of new customers for decades. At the same time, technological breakthroughs let health-care companies develop everything from better drugs to more effective medical devices.

The bottom line is that the relentless growth and aging of the U.S. population has helped a number of health-care stocks deliver some of the best returns in the stock market. This came to light when Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State University's W. P. Carey School of Business analyzed the lifetime returns of 25,782 common stocks over a 90-year span. The finance professor found that 96% of all stocks collectively performed no better than risk-free 1-month Treasury bills. The remaining 4% – just 1,000 stocks – generated all of the nearly $32 trillion in wealth created by the stock market between July 1926 and December 2015. Even more striking, the top 30 stocks accounted for one-third of that amount. Five of the 30 top-performing stocks can be found in the health-care sector. You're sure to recognize these names, which are among the titans of the health and drug industry.

SEE ALSO: The 30 Greatest Stocks of All Time

Stocks are listed in order of the dollar amount of lifetime wealth creation, which includes reinvested dividends, from lowest to highest. Current stock data as of August 29, 2017. Analysts’ ratings provided by Zacks. For more details on Bessembinder’s study methodology and findings, download a copy of his paper, "Do Stocks Outperform Treasury Bills?"

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