Trading Nation

Two health-care stocks could be best way to ride the sector's moves back to records

Trading Nation: Health care sector is close to capturing its January high, here's the stocks that could do it

Health-care stocks have been among the best performers since the market bottomed in March.

The XLV health care ETF now sits less than 3% below its January record.

Mark Tepper, president of Strategic Wealth Partners, is backing one of the stocks as the sector makes its way back to highs.

"My favorite would be Bristol-Myers," Tepper told CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Wednesday. "Bristol Myers has lagged the health-care sector by about 6% this year. The reason I like it is it is a pure play on cancer -- let's not forget cancer is still the number one medical problem in the world."

Tepper said a rebound in cancer screening and treatment as the coronavirus pandemic eases should benefit Bristol-Myers. The stock's fundamentals also appeal to Tepper.

"The valuation is cheap. The stock is trading at 10 times forward earnings with a [price-to-earnings growth] ratio of less than 1. They've got a strong pipeline and they're finally getting their swagger back as well," he said.

Mark Newton, president of Newton Advisors, has a different health stock on his watch list.

"Merck is one of the pharmas that has been underperforming of late and now recently started to show a lot of signs of good technical strength. We have actually broken a four-month downtrend in the stock," Newton said during the same segment.

Merck has risen 6% over the past week, though it remains down 10% for the year. 

"The stock is back up over May highs right near $82, but the fact is it's still 10% under its highs that it hit earlier in the year. So that makes it appealing to me as the stock starts to gain momentum," Newton said. "The stock has carved out really a giant long-term base, and the pullback that we've seen over the last few months actually has not undercut its longer-term uptrend even from 2009. So that makes it appealing to me."

Newton says Merck can break through $92. It closed Wednesday at $82.06. 

 Disclosure: Strategic Wealth Partners holds BMY. Newton Advisors holds MRK.