11 Best Health Care Stocks to Buy

The health care sector is having yet another strong year, and it’s easy to see the appeal.

WISE, VA - JULY 25:A nurse checks a patient's blood pressure at the Remote Area Medical (RAM), healthcare clinic July 25, 2008 in Wise, Virginia. The free weekend clinic, staffed by more than
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The health care sector is having yet another strong year, and it’s easy to see the appeal. Health care stocks – whether they be pharmaceutical companies, insurers, medical device makers, hospital owners or biotechnology firms – tend to pay healthy dividends. Just as attractive, they have the added benefit of being in what's known as a defensive industry. Whether the economy is growing or in a funk, consumers can't go without their medications and doctor's appointments, the thinking goes.

It's no wonder, then, that the sector is delivering outsize gains in 2017. Health care stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index are collectively up more than 20% for the year-to-date, versus 14% for the index itself.

Happily for investors, there still are bargains to be found. The health care sector fetches a bit less than 17 times expected earnings, according to Yardeni Research. By comparison, the S&P 500 goes for 18 times forward earnings, and only two of the market's 11 market sectors – telecommunications and financial shares – are less expensive.

This sector can be daunting for the uninitiated, as it covers a wide range of businesses, but these companies all should benefit from a common driver: Regardless of what happens with federal policy, health care spending should remain in a long-term uptrend thanks to America's aging population of baby boomers. To get a sense of what's available, here are 11 of the best health care stocks from across the sector's many industries.

Data is as of Oct. 26, 2017. Companies are listed in alphabetical order. Dividend yields are calculated by annualizing the most recent quarterly payout and dividing by the share price. Analysts’ ratings provided by Zacks Investment Research. Click on symbol links in each slide for current share prices and more.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is Kiplinger's senior investing writer, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.

A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.

In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics, demographics, real estate, cost of living indexes and more.