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The put/call ratio is a popular and helpful tool to gauge the sentiment surrounding a stock. A stock’s ratio of put options to call options indicates what options traders are currently thinking about its prospects. Because put options are pessimistic and call options are optimistic, rises in put/call are pessimistic and vice versa.

We ran a screen on the stocks of the healthcare sector for those seeing bullish changes in put/call (i.e. decreases in put/call) over the last ten trading days.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.‬‬

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

Are you also optimistic on these names? Use this list as a starting-off point for your own analysis.

List sorted by market cap.

1. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMY): Develops, and delivers innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. Market cap of $53.53B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.86 to 0.60 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -30.23%. The stock has gained 22.25% over the last year.

2. DaVita, Inc. (DVA): Provides kidney dialysis services in the United States. Market cap of $6.54B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.54 to 0.29 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -46.30%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.7%.

3. CareFusion Corporation (CFN): Provides various healthcare products and services in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $5.73B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.36 to 0.04 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -88.89%. The stock has gained 4.92% over the last year.

4. Mettler-Toledo International, Inc. (MTD): Manufactures and supplies precision instruments and services worldwide. Market cap of $4.90B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.97 to 0.81 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -16.49%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.32% (equivalent to 5.17 days of average volume). The stock has gained 16.28% over the last year.

5. Hologic Inc. (HOLX): Develops, manufactures, and distributes medical imaging systems, and diagnostic and surgical products for serving the healthcare needs of women. Market cap of $4.23B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.44 to 0.24 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -45.45%.

6. IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. (IDXX): Develops, manufactures, and distributes products for the veterinary and production animal markets, as well as for the water testing and dairy markets. Market cap of $4.04B. Put/Call ratio changed from 3.62 to 0.33 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -90.88%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.53% (equivalent to 11.25 days of average volume). The stock has gained 19.6% over the last year.

7. BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN): Develops and commercializes biopharmaceuticals for serious diseases and medical conditions. Market cap of $3.81B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.40 to 0.15 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -62.50%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.63% (equivalent to 8.89 days of average volume). The stock has gained 33.24% over the last year.

8. HealthSpring Inc. (HS-OLD): Operates as a managed care organization in the United States. Market cap of $3.66B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.28 to 0.21 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -25.0%. Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 27.68% above its SMA20, 38.08% above its SMA50, and 37.79% above its SMA200. The stock has had a good month, gaining 47.94%.

9. Techne Corp. (TECH): Engages in the development, manufacture, and sale of biotechnology products, and hematology calibrators and controls primarily in the United States and Europe. Market cap of $2.55B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.48 to 0.0 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -100.0%. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.46% over the last week.

10. Teleflex Incorporated (TFX): Develops, manufactures, and supplies single-use medical devices used by hospitals and healthcare providers worldwide. Market cap of $2.44B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.90 to 0.0 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -100.0%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.33%.

11. Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp. (MRX): Engages in the development and marketing of products for the treatment of dermatological and aesthetic conditions in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Market cap of $2.35B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.36 to 0.16 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -55.56%. The stock has gained 31.45% over the last year.

12. Tenet Healthcare Corp. (THC): Operates acute care hospitals and related health care facilities. Market cap of $2.19B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.44 to 0.33 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -25.0%. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.25). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.78% over the last week. The stock has had a good month, gaining 15.09%.

13. Theravance Inc. (THRX): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecule medicines for various therapeutic areas, including respiratory disease, bacterial infections, and central nervous system (CNS)/pain. Market cap of $1.88B. Put/Call ratio changed from 5.71 to 0.60 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -89.49%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 12.2% (equivalent to 16.34 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 10.38%.

14. Haemonetics Corp. (HAE): Provides blood management solutions to plasma and blood collectors, blood banks, hospitals and hospital service providers, and health organizations in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $1.57B. Put/Call ratio changed from 1.0 to 0.0 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -100.0%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.08% (equivalent to 8.44 days of average volume). The stock has gained 10.7% over the last year.

15. Magellan Health Services Inc. (MGLN): Provides managed behavioral healthcare, radiology benefits management, specialty pharmaceutical management, and Medicaid administration products and services in the United States. Market cap of $1.47B. Put/Call ratio changed from 4.36 to 0.0 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -100.0%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.29% (equivalent to 6.59 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.33% over the last week.

16. West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. (WST): Manufactures and sells components and systems for injectable drug delivery and plastic packaging, and delivery system components for the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and consumer products industries. Market cap of $1.31B. Put/Call ratio changed from 1.70 to 0.0 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -100.0%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.36% (equivalent to 15.82 days of average volume). The stock has gained 10.14% over the last year.

17. Volcano Corporation (VOLC): Designs, develops, manufactures, and commercializes a suite of intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and functional measurement (FM) products used in the diagnosis and treatment of vascular and structural heart disease. Market cap of $1.31B. Put/Call ratio changed from 1.74 to 0.32 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -81.61%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.49% (equivalent to 7.75 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 15.86%.

18. Masimo Corporation (MASI): Develops, manufactures, and markets noninvasive patient monitoring products worldwide. Market cap of $1.24B. Put/Call ratio changed from 2.0 to 0.12 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -94.0%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.14% (equivalent to 8.44 days of average volume). The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 5.63% below its SMA20, 7.87% below its SMA50, and 26.47% below its SMA200. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 9.58% over the last week.

19. Mine Safety Appliances Co. (MSA): Develops, manufactures, and supplies health and safety products used by workers in the fire service, homeland security, construction, and other industries, as well as the military. Market cap of $1.23B. Put/Call ratio changed from 0.23 to 0.06 between 10/17/11 to 10/28/11, a change of -73.91%. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up--dividend yield at 3.1%, current ratio at 2.71, and quick ratio at 1.83. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.07% over the last week.

20. Universal American Corp (UAM): Provides health insurance and managed care products and services primarily to the senior population in the United States. Market cap of $899.07M. Put/Call ratio changed from 1.63 to 0.0 between 10/18/11 to 10/31/11, a change of -100.0%. The stock has recently rebounded, and is currently trading 10.4% above its SMA20 and 9.41% above its SMA50. However, the stock still trades 19.58% below its SMA200. The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.31%.

*Options data sourced from Schaeffer’s, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: Options Traders Are Bullish On These 20 Healthcare Stocks