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Has Merck & Co. (MRK) Outpaced Other Medical Stocks This Year?

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For those looking to find strong Medical stocks, it is prudent to search for companies in the group that are outperforming their peers. Has Merck (MRK) been one of those stocks this year? A quick glance at the company's year-to-date performance in comparison to the rest of the Medical sector should help us answer this question.

Merck is a member of the Medical sector. This group includes 1193 individual stocks and currently holds a Zacks Sector Rank of #8. The Zacks Sector Rank considers 16 different groups, measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the sector to gauge the strength of each group.

The Zacks Rank emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions to find stocks with improving earnings outlooks. This system has a long record of success, and these stocks tend to be on track to beat the market over the next one to three months. Merck is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

Over the past 90 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for MRK's full-year earnings has moved 1.3% higher. This is a sign of improving analyst sentiment and a positive earnings outlook trend.

Based on the latest available data, MRK has gained about 19% so far this year. At the same time, Medical stocks have lost an average of 15%. This means that Merck is performing better than its sector in terms of year-to-date returns.

Another stock in the Medical sector, Patterson Cos. (PDCO), has outperformed the sector so far this year. The stock's year-to-date return is 3.2%.

Over the past three months, Patterson Cos.'s consensus EPS estimate for the current year has increased 2.3%. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Looking more specifically, Merck belongs to the Large Cap Pharmaceuticals industry, which includes 14 individual stocks and currently sits at #149 in the Zacks Industry Rank. This group has gained an average of 6.3% so far this year, so MRK is performing better in this area.

Patterson Cos. however, belongs to the Medical - Dental Supplies industry. Currently, this 19-stock industry is ranked #182. The industry has moved -15.7% so far this year.

Going forward, investors interested in Medical stocks should continue to pay close attention to Merck and Patterson Cos. as they could maintain their solid performance.

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