I love bargain stocks, especially when they're hitting 52-week lows. Still, it can be instructive to also look at stocks that are riding high.

For one thing, they can make good sell candidates. More optimistically, we may be able to find a few companies that can continue their upward climbs.

In this series, I'll be searching industry-by-industry for stocks reaching 52-week highs. That way, we'll be able to make a few quick comparisons among semi-related companies.

There are 24 industry groups as defined by the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). Health care equipment and services is one of them.

Below are the top seven companies in this space (by market cap) that are within spitting distance of their 52-week highs.

Company

Recent Price

52-week Low

52-week High

P/E Ratio (Trailing)

Alcon (NYSE: ACL)

$168.05

$134.40

$170.64

23.7

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH)

$37.56

$25.20

$37.95

9.4

Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX)

$49.10

$37.80

$54.00

27.5

Fresenius Medical Care (NYSE: FMS)

$62.84

$47.19

$64.11

20.3

Becton, Dickinson (NYSE: BDX)

$76.91

$66.20

$80.56

15.1

CIGNA (NYSE: CI)

$36.38

$27.20

$39.26

8.1

Hospira (NYSE: HSP)

$58.53

$44.40

$59.89

22.6

Sources: Capital IQ, a division of Standard & Poor's, and Yahoo! Finance.

Health-care reform in the U.S. certainly adds some uncertainty, but UnitedHealth is a cheap stock with a proven track record. Perhaps the market is now starting to factor in that track record a bit. Meanwhile, Cigna's multiple is even lower.

Becton, Dickinson also showed up in a screen for stocks near 52-week lows, showing just how stable a stock it is. In addition, it is the only stock listed that scores a maximum CAPS rating of five stars.

If you are interested in reading more about any of these stocks, add them to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis on them.