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3 Top Healthcare Stocks You've Been Overlooking

By Keith Speights - Dec 18, 2016 at 7:03AM

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Why investors should take a look at Align Technology, HealthEquity, and Jazz Pharmaceuticals.

Big pharma and big biotech stocks get most of the attention in the healthcare sector. However, there are plenty of other opportunities that hold the potential to bring great returns to investors. Here are three healthcare stocks that you might be overlooking: Align Technology (ALGN 1.00%)Health Equity (HQY -0.77%), and Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ -0.96%).

Image source: Getty Images.

Making smiles

Align Technology is best known for its Invisalign clear dental aligners that are an alternative to metal braces. The company has expanded in recent years into developing and selling intra-oral scanning systems. 

In the first nine months of this year, Align's revenue jumped nearly 28% higher than the prior-year period. Earnings soared over 49%. This kind of growth has helped Align quietly emerge as one of the best-performing healthcare stocks around.

Over the past five years, Align's stock price has more than quadrupled. Shares have risen over 50% in 2016 alone. Align's success stems from not only from its competitive advantages over metal braces but also from international expansion and new products and services.

Align seems poised to continue its remarkable growth. There aren't any clouds on the horizon that should hurt clear aligner shipments. Align's intra-oral scanners are gaining popularity among dental professionals. And the company is increasing its strength internationally, especially in the Netherlands.

Riding the wave 

Even if you haven't heard of HealthEquity, there's a decent chance that you've benefited from its services. The company is the integrated health savings account (HSA) platform for 25 of the 50 largest health plans in the U.S., several of which are among the 31 Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans that are customers of HealthEquity. 

The company's revenue in the first nine months of 2016 increased 45% year over year. Earnings soared 65% during the period. This tremendous growth was made possible by an equally impressive increase in HSA members of 48% from Oct. 31, 2015, through Oct. 31, 2016.

Over the last five years, HealthEquity's stock has risen over 150%. The biggest momentum, though, has come recently. So far in 2016, the company's share price has surged almost 70%.

The future for HealthEquity should be bright. HSAs are becoming increasingly more popular. President-elect Donald Trump has made HSAs a cornerstone of his healthcare plan. HealthEquity seems well-positioned to continue riding the HSA wave successfully.

Diamond in the rough

Jazz Pharmaceuticals currently has three lead products on the market: narcolepsy drug Xyrem, acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) drug Erwinase, and hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) drug Defitelio. Another could be on the way if acute myeloid leukemia (AML) drug Vyxeos wins regulatory approval.

Jazz's financial performance has been solid, but not as impressive as that of Align Technology or HealthEquity. Revenue during the first nine months of 2016 increased 11% compared to the prior-year period. Earnings grew over 10% during this period.

The last five years has been good for Jazz's shareholders, with the stock nearly tripling in value. However, like many biotechs, Jazz hasn't done so well in 2016. Shares are down around 25% this year.

Wall Street analysts expect the company's earnings to increase by an average of more than 17% per year over the next five years. That seems attainable with Xyrem's continued growth and great prospects for Vyxeos. With its stock trading at only nine times forward earnings, Jazz could be a diamond in the rough.

Don't overlook these

There are a few things that investors should note about these three stocks. Both Align Technology and HealthEquity currently have high valuations. The good news is that this is a direct result of their tremendous success. The bad news is that any bump in the road could make a bigger negative impact on their stock prices.

That's not a problem with Jazz Pharmaceuticals. However, there is a risk that Vyxeos won't win regulatory approval. If it doesn't, Jazz's prospects won't be nearly as attractive.

However, I still think Align, HealthEquity, and Jazz should be winners over the long run. Don't overlook these great healthcare investment opportunities.

Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Align Technology. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Align Technology, Inc. Stock Quote
Align Technology, Inc.
$289.04 (1.00%) $2.85
Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc Stock Quote
Jazz Pharmaceuticals plc
$158.72 (-0.96%) $-1.54
HealthEquity, Inc. Stock Quote
HealthEquity, Inc.
$62.19 (-0.77%) $0.48

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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