Top Three Performing NASDAQ 100 Stocks for 2013

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It should come as no surprise that year to date, the top three performing NASDAQ 100 stocks come from companies in the health care sector. Through April 26th, those companies were Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) and Life Technologies (NASDAQ: LIFE). As many analysts have predicted, the health care sector is performing exceptionally in 2013, asU.S. firms scramble for their piece of the pie in attractive medical equipment, biosciences, pharmaceutical and general heath care markets.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals leads the way through nearly 1/3 of the second quarter, with performance that has outpaced its peers in the drug arena very handily. According to Businessweek, Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology and Life Sciences firms are enjoying over 23% growth in the price of their stocks year to date. The Businessweek study examines 166 companies within this important health care niche, and Vertex is outperforming the group by a factor of nearly four. Through April 27th, VRTX was up a whopping 88% year to date, thanks to the successful trial of its new cystic fibrosis drug, VX-661. The results were announced on April 18th, and shares of Vertex shot up over 55% in the hours following the news. Since then, the stock has toyed with its 52-week high (at just over $80) and was trading at $79.69 early on April 29th. If VX-661 proves to be as effective as early trials are indicating, Vertex could eclipse it’s all-time high ($93/share) set back in November of 2000.

Celgene Corporation, with year to date performance showing 53% growth in its stock price, was also trading near its all-time high on April 29th. That mark was realized on April 22nd, when the stock closed at just under $127. Strong Q1 earnings drove the surge, and the company is faring very well against the XLV (collection of similar health care stocks, the equivalent of a health care SPDR). The company also announced a strategic alliance with FORMA Therapeutics for the development of drugs to help regulate protein homeostasis, which could further drive interest in this impressive stock.

Another excellent performer, Life Technologies, weighs in at number three on the NASDAQ 100 top issues for the year so far. LIFE was trading right at its 52-week high (just under $74) for most of the morning hours on April 29th, continuing to be fueled by early-April rumors of the company’s intention to find a buyer. Those rumors pushed the stock up 7% in one trading day, nicely following a steady climb from $48 per share in January of this year. With 50% growth thus far in 2013, the company appears poised to continue taking advantage of its position as a player in the medical equipment and instrument industry. Its 2012 revenues were $3.8M, with customers in over 180 countries – a testament to the market diversity Life Technologies has leveraged into growth that is outpacing Businessweek’s Health Care and Equipment Services (173 companies) sector nearly five to one (10.9% growth vs. 50% for LIFE year to date).

As mentioned, performance of the kind these three stocks are delivering should come as no surprise for close followers of the NASDAQ 100. The outlook for companies playing in the health care sector continues to be bright, thanks to everything from the uncertainty surrounding Obamacare to the perennial need for better drugs and premium equipment. And if the current trends continue, a savvy investor will do well to ensure that his or her portfolio is well-represented by the stellar health care technology sector.

Naomi Warmate-Igwe has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Celgene and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. 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. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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