Image source: Getty Images.

Medical-device makers have been among healthcare's top performers this year, and returns for individual healthcare stocks in the industry have been remarkable. Some of the best returns have come from Abiomed (NASDAQ:ABMD), Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE:EW), and Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX). Shares in all three of these companies have outperformed the S&P 500 ETF by nearly 25% or more in 2016. Can their stock prices continue to soar? 

Pumping up profits

Abiomed's heart pumps are used to help support heart function following a heart attack or during surgery, and demand for these Abiomed's Impella catheters, sensors, and pumps has been steadily increasing as they win approval for use in more patients.

About 735,000 Americans suffer a heart attack every year, and since most heart attacks occur in older patients, and baby boomers are turning 65 at a pace of 10,000 per day, there's good reason to believe Abiomed sales will continue higher.

Last year, Abiomed won approval to use its devices in high-risk patients, and earlier this year, the FDA approved its use in patients experiencing cardiogenic shock; roughly 7.5% of heart attack patients suffer cardiogenic shock. Abiomed's penetration of this market is only around 5%. Despite the small penetration rate, this indication accounts for about 40% of Abiomed's Impella sales, so greater use stemming from the FDA go-ahead could send the company's profit significantly higher. 

In fact, that may already be happening. On July 28, the company reported fiscal first-quarter revenue of $103 million, up 40.3% versus last year, with EPS of $0.29. Last year, the company delivered EPS of $0.20. That performance was solid enough for the company to up its fiscal full-year guidance. Management now expects sales to eclipse $435 million this year, rather than $430 million. Given the company's robust growth and improving guidance, it's little wonder shares are up 32.4% in 2016.

Image source: Edwards Lifesciences.

A new way to fix an ailing heart

Heart disease patients who are too frail to undergo open heart surgery are turning to transcatheter aortic valve replacement, or TAVR, and that's boosting demand for Edwards Lifesciences' TAVR product line.

TAVR procedures allow doctors to insert a mechanical tissue valve inside of a patient's existing narrowed aortic valve in a way that's less invasive than traditional surgery. Because of the advantages associated with less-risky procedures in high-risk patients, growing adoption of TAVR resulted in Edwards Lifesciences reporting on July 27 that revenue grew 23.1% year over year to $759.3 million. TAVR heart valve product sales jumped 48.8% year over year to $418.6 million, and underlying U.S. growth was an impressive 66%.

Since sales growth was leveraged against fixed costs, the company announced a 30.9% increase in non-GAAP net income to $164.6 million, or $0.76 per share. The performance has management thinking it will deliver at the high end of its $2.7 billion to $3 billion sales guidance for this year. If so, investors will be rewarded with non-GAAP EPS of at least $2.78.

Hitting those targets could get easier if clinical trials continue to demonstrate that TAVR procedures can be useful in intermediate-risk patients, too. If doctors embrace TAVR for healthier patients, it could meaningfully expand Edwards Lifesciences' addressable market. That goes a long way toward explaining why shares have rallied 44.6% this year.

Image source: Boston Scientific.

Troubles move into the rear view mirror

Boston Scientific shareholders have suffered through FDA sanctions, lawsuits, and sluggish demand, but their patience is beginning to be rewarded as the company returns to growth.

Shares have skyrocketed 32.5% in 2016.

In the first quarter, revenue grew 11.1% versus last year, and in the second quarter, sales growth accelerated to 15.4%. Second-quarter sales totaled $2.13 billion, and those results include a 12.7% increase in cardiovascular sales and a 29% increase in medical surgical sales. Sales of the company's defibrillators surged 52.8% higher in the period, and the company's non-GAAP EPS surged 22.7% higher to $0.27 in the quarter.

Back in April, management boosted full-year sales guidance to at least $8.07 billion, and after reporting its second-quarter numbers, management now forecasts that revenue will exceed $8.27 billion. Boston Scientific also bumped up its full-year EPS outlook to at least $1.07 from at least $1.06 exiting Q1 and at least $1.03 prior to Q1.

Despite Boston Scientific's share price increase, there's still reason to think there's room to run higher. Industry watchers think EPS could grow to $1.25 next year, and that means shares are trading at an arguably reasonable forward P/E ratio of 19. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.