Healthcare stocks have been on the rise in recent years, as investors have become more interested in the sector. Healthcare stocks are typically seen as defensive investments, as they tend to perform well even during periods of economic uncertainty. Furthermore, the aging population is expected to drive continued growth in the healthcare sector, making it an attractive investment option for long-term stock market investors.

In addition, healthcare stocks also offer a high degree of stability, as they are less likely to be affected by short-term economic fluctuations. As a result, Healthcare stocks offer investors an appealing mix of defensive qualities and long-term growth potential. If this has you keen on investing in healthcare right now, here are four trending healthcare stocks to watch in the stock market today.

Healthcare Stocks To Buy [Or Sell] Right Now

1. UnitedHealth Group (UNH Stock)

Kicking off our list of healthcare stocks today, let’s look at UnitedHealth Group (UNH). In short, UnitedHealth Group is a United States-based health care company. The company operates through two main business segments: UnitedHealthcare and Optum. Additionally, UNH offers a diversified portfolio of products and services to the health care industry. This includes products and services such as; insurance plans, health care products and services, information and technology products and services, and consulting services.  Today, UnitedHealth Group offers its shareholders an annual dividend yield of 1.22%.

UNH Recent Stock News

Just this month, the company announced it will report its third quarter 2022 financial results. Specifically, UnitedHealth Group is set to announce its results on Friday, October 14, 2022, before the opening bell. In the meantime, let’s recap how UNH performed in Q2 2022.

Back in July, UnitedHealth Group reported second-quarter 2022 earnings of $5.57 per share and revenue of $80.3 billion. This came in better than analysts estimated for the 2nd quarter of 2022, which was earnings of $5.24 per share and revenue of $79.7 billion.

What’s interesting, is to see if the company provides a revised outlook on its estimated full-year 2022 results. In the second quarter release, UNH said it expects full-year 2022 earnings of $21.40 to $21.90 per share. Additionally, Andrew Witty, CEO of UnitedHealth Group said this about their performance in Q2 2022, “Customers are responding as we build on our five growth pillars, enabling us to move into the second half of 2022 with strong momentum serving ever more people more deeply.

UNH Stock Chart

Separate from that, shares of UNH stock are green on the year so far up 1.55%. As of Monday’s afternoon trading session, UnitedHealth Group stock is trading at $509.87 per share. Given UNH’s strong track record, and Q3 earnings on deck, do you think now is a good time to keep UNH stock on your watchlist right now?

UNH stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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2. Merck & Co. (MRK Stock)

Next, let’s move our attention over to Merck & Co. (MRK). In brief, Merck & Company is an American pharmaceutical company. To start, the company’s pharmaceutical products are used to treat several conditions in a number of therapeutic areas. This includes cardiometabolic disease, cancer, and infections. The company also has a substantial vaccine business, with treatments to prevent hepatitis B and pediatric diseases as well as HPV and shingles. In addition, MRK currently has an annual dividend yield of 3.20% for shareholders.

MRK Recent Stock News

Just last week, the company’s Merck Animal Health announced they will be acquiring privately-held company Venice. Venice is a leader in virtual fencing technology. Specifically for the use cases of rotational grazing and livestock management. What’s more, Venice’s platform allows its customers from a desktop or smartphone the ability to manage cattle movement and simplify rotational grazing. Essentially, Venice’s platform enables producers and ranchers to help manage inventory, all while cutting costs of labor and fencing materials. Meanwhile, the transaction is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2022.

Rick DeLuca, president, of Merck Animal Health, said this about the acquisition, “The acquisition of Vence will broaden our portfolio with complementary products and technologies to advance animal health and well-being as well as outcomes for our customers. Vence is a natural fit with Merck Animal Health’s growing portfolio of animal intelligence products that include identification, traceability and monitoring products. This new technology will give cow-calf producers the ability to track their cattle and the ability to move them from pasture to pasture.

MRK Stock Chart

Moving along, so far in 2022 shares of MRK stock have advanced over 12%. During Monday’s afternoon trading session, MRK stock is trading at $86.15 per share. With this being said, do you think it’s the right time to add MRK to your list of healthcare stocks to watch in the stock market now?

mrk stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

3. AbbVie (ABBV Stock)

Following that, AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) is a global, research-based biopharmaceutical company formed in 2013 as a spin-off from Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT). The company focuses its efforts on a broad range of therapeutic areas. This entails areas like; immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, virology, women’s health, and gastroenterology.

ABBV Recent Stock News

Just earlier this month, AbbVie announced its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.41 per share. In detail, the cash dividend is payable on November 15, 2022, to stockholders of record at the close of business on October 14, 2022.

What’s more, since AbbVie’s inception in 2013, the company has increased its dividend by greater than 250&, while increasing its annual dividend for 25 straight years. Currently, AbbVie is a member of the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index and has an annual dividend yield of 3.98%.

ABBV Stock Chart

Shares of ABBV stock are outperforming the broader markets so far in 2022. ABBV stock is up over 4% year-to-date and is trading on Monday afternoon at $141.68 per share. With this in mind, do you think now could be a good time to add ABBV stock to your long-term portfolio?

abbv stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

[Read More] Best Stocks To Buy Now In 2022? 4 Dividend Stocks For Your Watchlist

4. CVS Health (CVS Stock)

Rounding off the list, CVS Health Corporation (CVS) is an American healthcare company. In detail, The company owns CVS Pharmacy, a retail pharmacy chain; CVS Caremark, a pharmacy benefits manager; and Aetna, a health insurance provider, as well as many other brands. For a sense of scale, CVS currently has over 9,700 CVS pharmacy locations throughout the United States as of September 19, 2022. What’s more, currently CVS shareholders enjoy an annual dividend yield from the company of 2.25%.

CVS Recent Stock News

In August, CVS Health announced stronger-than-expected second-quarter 2022 financial results. In the report, CVS announced earnings of $2.40 per share and revenue of $80.6 billion for Q2 2022. Wall street’s earnings estimate was $2.16 per share and revenue estimates of $76.4 billion. Separate from that, CVS also announced its forecast for its 2022 full-year fiscal earnings. The company said it estimates full-year 2022 earnings of $8.40 to $8.60 per share.

Furthermore, Karen S. Lynch, CVS Health President, and CEO said this about the quarter’s performance, “Despite a challenging economic environment, our differentiated business model helped drive strong results this quarter, with significant revenue growth across all of our business segments. The continued success of our foundational businesses accelerated our strategy to expand access to health services and help consumers navigate to the best site of care.

CVS Stock Chart

During Monday’s afternoon trading action, CVS stock is trading at $97.94 per share. Meanwhile, with shares of CVS Health stock down approximately 5.98% year-to-date, will you be keeping an eye on CVS stock today?

cvs stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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