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Healthcare Stocks: 5 Biggest Companies in 2024

Healthcare is one of the world’s most critical sectors, and healthcare stocks offer an opportunity to invest in companies that are making a difference in people’s lives while also providing a steady stream of returns.

Healthcare companies operate in a highly competitive, highly regulated environment. Often at the forefront of innovation in medicine and healthcare technology, the sector has seen a boom of activity in recent years, driven in part by advancements in technology, namely artificial intelligence, machine learning and quantum computing.

1. UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH)

Company Profile

Market cap: US$480.4 billion; current share price: US$519.39

One of the largest healthcare companies in the world, UnitedHealth Group is an international provider of health insurance, healthcare services and healthcare information technology. According to the company, its two subsidiaries — Optum and UnitedHealthcare — work with governments, employers and providers to bring a modern, value-based and high-performing healthcare system to millions of people around the world. Specifically, Optum provides services such as direct care and data analytics through its three businesses, Optum Health, Optum Insight and Optum Rx, while UnitedHealthcare is an insurance and managed care company with a variety of services offered through four different divisions.

On February 6, UnitedHealthcare launched a community-based program in Owensboro, Kentucky, to improve the health outcomes of individuals with uncontrolled type II diabetes and pre-diabetes. Fourth quarter and full-year 2023 financial results show growth in revenue and earnings from operations of 15 and 14 percent year-over-year, respectively.

2. Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO)

Company Profile

Market cap: US$213.4 billion; current share price: US$552.31

Thermo Fisher Scientific is a multinational biotech company known for a wide range of laboratory, diagnostic and analytical tools and instruments, which it provides to entities in the healthcare, scientific and academic fields. Other services offered by the healthcare firm include contract research, manufacturing and consulting services.

The company released its 2023 fourth quarter and full-year results on January 31. Despite a slight 5 percent dip in revenue, Thermo Fisher said it remains confident in its performance during the 12 month period, highlighting wins like its completed acquisition of the Binding Site Group, a diagnostics company specializing in innovative tests for multiple myeloma and immune disorders, and CorEvitas, a real-world evidence provider for medical treatments. In 2024, Thermo Fisher plans to complete its acquisition of Olink, a Swedish biotech company that specializes in proteomic solutions.

Additionally, Thermo Fisher was recently granted good manufacturing practice approval by the Italian Medicines Agency to begin RNA synthesis and lipid nanoparticle formation at its site in Monza, Italy. Manufacturing efforts at the site will go toward the production of RNA-based therapies and vaccines.

3. Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT)

Company Profile

Market cap: US$196.71 billion; current share price: US$113.31

Abbott Laboratories is one of the leading healthcare companies in the world, operating in over 150 countries. With a history that spans 135 years, Abbott Labs has been an integral part of the development and advancement of modern-day medicine. The company developed Pentothal, which went on to become the leading anesthetic for nearly a century, as well as the first monoclonal antibody drug, Humira. It was one of the leading producers of penicillin during World War II.

Abbott Labs has also been an integral part of the diagnostics business, having introduced ABA-100, a blood chemistry analyzer, and tests for detecting serum hepatitis and HIV. In 2013, Abbott Labs split into two companies, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), which took over the development and marketing of its pharmaceutical products. Today, AbbVie is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world by market cap.

Abbott’s 2023 worldwide sales reached US$40.1 billion, up from the previous year by 11.6 percent.

4. Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ:ISRG)

Company Profile

Market cap: US$137.89 billion; current share price: US$391.38

Intuitive Surgical is focused on the design, manufacturing and marketing of its da Vinci surgical system, which allows surgeons to perform select minimally invasive surgical procedures with precise control.

Since being introduced by Intuitive Surgival in 2000, da Vinci systems have been adopted by 70 countries, with over 7,500 systems in operation around the world today. In April 2023, the da Vinci SP surgical system was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in simple prostatectomy procedures.

In addition to the da Vinci line of robotic surgical equipment, Intuitive Surgical introduced the Ion endoluminal system, a robotic-assisted platform that can perform a minimally invasive biopsy of the lungs, in 2019.

The company’s Q4 2023 earnings were released on January 23, and they show a 21 percent increase in da Vinci-assisted procedures worldwide compared to Q4 2022, and a 17 percent increase in Q4 revenue compared to the previous year.

5. Stryker (NYSE:SYK)

Company Profile

Market cap: US$130.21 billion; current share price: US$342.72

Stryker is a multinational medical technology company based in Michigan, US. As one of the leading medical device manufacturers, it has operations in 55 countries worldwide, with several offices in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

Stryker’s diverse line of products and services caters to a wide range of medical needs, spanning medical and surgical interventions, neurotechnology, spine and orthopedics.

The company’s total sales surpassed US$20 billion in 2023 for the first time in its history. The firm’s full-year results were released on January 30, along with its 2024 outlook. Kevin Lobo, chairman and CEO, said that although Stryker expects its sales to be negatively impacted by the foreign exchange rate, he is looking forward to net sales growth of 7.5 to 9 percent in 2024.

Securities Disclosure: I, Meagen Seatter, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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