Top Healthcare Stocks in 2021

| Updated
by Beatrice Mastropietro · 7 min read
Top Healthcare Stocks in 2021
Photo: Unsplash

In 2021, the healthcare industry and stocks are experiencing significant changes. Here we describe the best-performing stocks in the sector that you can invest in and get good returns.

The healthcare sector is one of the most important sectors to every country’s economy. It employs hundreds of thousands of people and generates billions of revenue for these countries, making it a high-priority industry. That means that there are plenty of opportunities to invest your money in this sector. But which stocks will be best for you? We’ve compiled a list of top healthcare stocks in 2021 so that you can get started on your investment journey now!

Top Healthcare Stocks to Consider This Year

Let us have a look at companies that have shown the best performance in 2021.

  • UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH) is one of the largest health insurers and providers, not just in America but worldwide. More than 100 million people trust UnitedHealth to manage their insurance needs for both individual and group plans. The company offers a variety of services, including medical care, pharmacy benefits management (PBM), dental insurance, behavioral health solutions, medicare supplements (Medigap) as well as other related products and services that are designed to help people live healthier lives by simplifying the business of healthcare.

With UnitedHealth Group stock, an investor can potentially benefit from both the health of UnitedHealth’s business model as well as their diversified portfolio. As UnitedHealth continues to grow and expand its product line within the healthcare industry, investors may want to consider adding this stock to their portfolios.

  • Danaher

Danaher (NYSE: DHR) is a diversified technology and manufacturing company with $228.91 billion of market-cap as of September 2021. It operates six segments, with the Life Sciences division being its largest by revenue. The company’s products include:

  • Test & measurement instruments, medical devices & equipment used in drug discovery research;
  • Dental imaging systems and clinical monitoring solutions;
  • Biosurgery implants for critical care applications and blood management technologies such as anemia testing reagents.

Danaher was founded in Washington DC in 1969 by William J. Danaher Jr., Jim Lenehan, Jack Brown, and Robert Stone to manufacture metal cutting tools used primarily on military aircraft production lines.

The company has seen its stock to soar by more than 110% in 2021 and experience many high fluctuations. Danaher even reached an all-time high at one point gaining over 25%. This is mainly due to their new product launch that aimed towards improving patient care.

Danaher performs well compared to other stocks within its sector, with an average return of 19% for 2020 (price change). This beats out both Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: J&J) with 17%, as well as STERIS PLC with 15%, HLTHCVS INC with 13%, and THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC INC with 12%.

  • Sage Therapeutics

Sage Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: SAGE) is a San Diego-based biopharmaceutical company. It is pioneering a novel class of oral medicines to treat central nervous system disorders.

Sage has been in the news in 2021 for their latest drug to treat Postpartum Depression, Zulresso. The company announced that they were initiating a Phase III clinical trial studying this drug as an add-on treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD). This comes after positive results from two previous Phase II studies. They showed statistically significant improvements over placebo with minimal side effects. Analysts expect Sage’s shares will continue performing until 2025 as its sales look promising. In addition, the performance of Healthcare Stocks was estimated at 27% per annum between 2021 and 2025.

  • Organon & Co.

Organon & Co. (NYSE: OGN) is an NYSE-listed stock that has seen impressive returns over 2021. It does not look like its upward trajectory will end.

As an NYSE-listed company, Organon & Co. has been subject to scrutiny and regulation as part of its mandate for transparency in the healthcare industry. This was especially evident after several reported fraud cases rocked NYSE markets during 2009 due to the economic recession. The NYSE is also responsible for enforcing compliance from all companies under its purview, which includes adherence with rules regarding corporate governance and stock exchange listing requirements, including annual disclosure on material assets and liabilities, income statements, and other information that shareholders need to make informed investment decisions on publicly traded stocks like Organon & Co.

  • Intuitive Surgical

Intuitive Surgical (NASDAQ: ISRG) operates in the healthcare industry. The company provides robotic-assisted surgical products and services during surgery while also researching robotics technology to advance patient care. Intuitive has the following key product platforms: Da Vinci Xi, Da Vinci Si, Mazor Robotics Renaissance System (Mazor X), single-Port Orbera Intragastric Balloon Therapy (Orbera IGB), and Harmony™ Retrievable Vena Cava Filters & Other Interventional Cardiology Technologies platform.

The company’s flagship product is the daVinci® Surgical System which uses advanced technologies to perform complex surgeries through a few small incisions rather than one or two large ones.

Analysts expect Intuitive Surgical to grow. In September of 2021, Intuitive Surgical’s stock is a top performer on the Nasdaq 100 index (IXIC). According to Zacks Investment Research, Inc, Intuitive Surgical is one of the top healthcare stocks for investors to consider buying in 2021. They have an “A” rating with a $260 price target. In addition, in August 2021, Intuitive Surgical was ranked by Fortune magazine among its list of best companies at making money from selling medical devices such as da Vinci surgical systems.

  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX) is a biotechnology company that focuses on the discovery, development, and commercialization of human therapeutics. The company has discovered both small molecule and protein therapeutics for multiple stages of life-threatening diseases, many of which are addressed by its approved drugs. Vertex Pharma is among several companies developing drugs aimed at altering faulty protein processing implicated in these diseases.

You can buy Vertex Pharmaceuticals shares from your stockbroker or via an online brokerage. You have to search for the trading symbol VRTX and then place an order with your selected account type, cash, or margin account. However, before you can start buying Vertex Pharmaceuticals stock on the market, some legalities need clearing up first.

  • Moderna

Moderna Inc (NYSE: MRNA) is a biotechnology company that develops and commercializes messenger RNA (mRNA) drugs to treat patients with severe conditions. The technology on which the company has built its pipeline is full of potential treatments for some severe diseases: cancer, infectious disease, neurological diseases, and autoimmune disease.

Moderna has some unique qualities that make investing in Moderna particularly interesting for biotech investors. In 2021, Moderna is developing mRNA-1656, a drug candidate to treat ALS and reverse its underlying cause in neurons. Moderna is also interested in lung cancer through a partnership with Merck & Co., Inc. (NASDAQ: MRK) and Biogen Inc (NASDAQ: BIIB). Moderna has remained profitable because of continued cash injections from Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NYSE: GILD), and other investments by large pharmaceutical companies such as Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG), Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE), Roche Holding AG (NASDAQ: RHHBY), and GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK).

  • GlaxoSmithKline

GlaxoSmithKline plc (NYSE: GSK) is a British pharmaceutical company, with headquarters in London, UK, and offices in about 100 countries. The company emerged in 2000 when Glaxo Wellcome and SmithKline Beecham announced that they were going to merge. Glaxo Wellcome’s history dates back to 1715 when Mr. Edward Alured Gl Receiver of the Customs for Dorchester thought it would be a good idea to advertise his business by putting a notice up in Berwick Church-Yard. GlaxoSmithKline operates in four main divisions: Pharmaceuticals, Vaccines, Consumer Healthcare, and Performance Materials.

Since starting trading in London on February 21, 1997, as a public limited company, GSK stock has grown exponentially. The pharmaceutical giant is one of the largest companies in the UK GlaxoSmithKline plc discovers, develops, manufactures, and distributes pharmaceutical products, including prescription medicines, vaccines, and consumer healthcare products.

Analysts predict that GlaxoSmithKline stocks will grow by 12.74% per annum.


In 2021, the healthcare industry and stocks are experiencing significant changes, partly driven by patent expirations on several popular drugs and an increasingly competitive market with more payers demanding lower prices. The pressure is not just coming from the United States either, but these forces are certainly having a significant impact on US companies as well as global ones like Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE), and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK).

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