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For a look into a company’s sales trends, one idea is to consider their growth in inventory over time. Comparing this to growth in revenue could show some interesting results.

We ran a screen on the healthcare sector for stocks with positive trends in inventory, with growth in quarterly revenue outpacing growth in quarterly inventory year-over-year. We also screened for companies with quarterly inventory decreasing as a percent of current assets.

To understand why these trends are positive, think of why the opposite trends would be negative. If revenue were growing slower than inventory, it may indicate that the company is having trouble selling its inventory – although this could just indicate inventory building or a change in sales policies.

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.

Do you think these companies have encouraging sales trends? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by difference between growth in revenue and inventory.

1. Biolase Technology, Inc. (BLTI): Develops, manufactures, and markets lasers and related products focused on technologies for improved applications and procedures in dentistry and medicine. Market cap of $86.32M. MRQ revenue has increased 109.97% ($13.06M vs. $6.22M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 16.49% ($9.82M vs. $8.43M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 56.20% to 39.52%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.84). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 22.93% (equivalent to 22.61 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 6.93% over the last week.

2. Bacterin International Holdings, Inc. (NYSEMKT:BONE): Develops, manufactures, and markets biologics products in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $89.30M. MRQ revenue has increased 79.95% ($7.54M vs. $4.19M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 10.62% ($7.71M vs. $6.97M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 64.30% to 45.25%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 24.95% below its SMA20, 14.5% below its SMA50, and 29.17% below its SMA200. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 23.61% over the last week.

3. Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGNT): Engages in developing, manufacturing, sourcing, and marketing pharmaceutical products, principally injectable-based generic equivalents primarily in the United States. Market cap of $588.83M. MRQ revenue has increased 94.08% ($41.28M vs. $21.27M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 41.48% ($37.79M vs. $26.71M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 37.10% to 20.13%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 11.2% below its SMA20, 8.63% below its SMA50, and 12.23% below its SMA200. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 18.3%.

4. Anika Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:ANIK): Develops, manufactures, and commercializes therapeutic products for tissue protection, healing, and repair. Market cap of $106.64M. MRQ revenue has increased 33.09% ($18.46M vs. $13.87M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 16.28% ($7.87M vs. $9.4M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 17.36% to 13.42%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has had a good month, gaining 26.09%.

5. Pernix Therapeutics Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:PTX): Engages in the development, marketing, and sale of branded and generic pharmaceutical products primarily for the pediatric market. Market cap of $185.84M. MRQ revenue has increased 120.13% ($17.06M vs. $7.75M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 79.47% ($7.52M vs. $4.19M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 18.42% to 11.62%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 20.92% below its SMA20, 24.17% below its SMA50, and 27.39% below its SMA200. It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 12.38% over the last week.

6. Quidel Corp. (NASDAQ:QDEL): Engages in the development, manufacture, and marketing of diagnostic testing solutions for applications primarily in infectious diseases, and reproductive and women's health. Market cap of $569.24M. MRQ revenue has increased 17.29% ($33.11M vs. $28.23M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 22.90% ($14.85M vs. $19.26M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 34.63% to 16.0%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 17.75% (equivalent to 31.68 days of average volume). The stock has gained 29.31% over the last year.

7. ZOLL Medical Corp. (NASDAQ:ZOLL): Develops, manufactures, and markets resuscitation devices and related software solutions worldwide. Market cap of $956.88M. MRQ revenue has increased 26.17% ($151.9M vs. $120.39M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 5.83% ($65.88M vs. $69.96M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 27.28% to 23.03%, comparing 13 weeks ending 2011-10-02 to 13 weeks ending 2010-10-03. The stock has recently rebounded, and is currently trading 11.51% above its SMA20 and 12.84% above its SMA50. However, the stock still trades 10.58% below its SMA200. The stock has had a good month, gaining 12.5%.

8. The Spectranetics Corporation (NASDAQ:SPNC): Designs, manufactures, and markets single use medical devices used in minimally invasive surgical procedures within the cardiovascular system in conjunction with its proprietary excimer laser system, the CVX-300. Market cap of $226.33M. MRQ revenue has increased 8.62% ($32.13M vs. $29.58M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 19.70% ($7.5M vs. $9.34M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 17.19% to 11.85%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. After a solid performance over the last year, SPNC has pulled back during recent sessions. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 16%.

9. Hi Tech Pharmacal Co. Inc. (NASDAQ:HITK): Develops, manufactures, markets, and sells generic, prescription, over-the-counter (OTC), and nutritional products in liquid and semisolid dosage forms in the United States. Market cap of $515.63M. MRQ revenue has increased 42.99% ($56.21M vs. $39.31M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 14.84% ($27.7M vs. $24.12M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 20.48% to 16.71%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-07-31 to 3 months ending 2010-07-31. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 15.58% (equivalent to 8.02 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 8.98% over the last week.

10. Cyberonics Inc. (NASDAQ:CYBX): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, sale, and marketing of implantable medical devices that provide vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy for the treatment of refractory epilepsy and treatment-resistant depression. Market cap of $816.45M. MRQ revenue has increased 13.15% ($53.7M vs. $47.46M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 13.43% ($13.67M vs. $15.79M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 12.43% to 10.55%, comparing 13 weeks ending 2011-10-28 to 13 weeks ending 2010-10-29. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.82% (equivalent to 16.53 days of average volume).

11. Derma Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:DSCI): Engages in manufacturing, marketing, and selling wound care, wound closure and specialty securement devices, and skin care products. Market cap of $81.78M. MRQ revenue has increased 4.97% ($15.85M vs. $15.1M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 20.03% ($10.86M vs. $13.58M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 68.55% to 26.42%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 5.82% below its SMA20, 5.88% below its SMA50, and 14.7% below its SMA200. The stock has gained 59.05% over the last year.

12. ResMed Inc. (NYSE:RMD): Engages in the development, manufacture, and distribution of medical equipment for treating, diagnosing, and managing sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory disorders. Market cap of $3.81B. MRQ revenue has increased 11.62% ($314.77M vs. $282.01M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 12.26% ($187.95M vs. $214.21M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 20.05% to 16.45%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 5.73% (equivalent to 7.67 days of average volume). The stock has lost 20.12% over the last year.

13. Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (WPI): Engages in the development, manufacturing, marketing, sale, and distribution of generic and brand pharmaceutical products focused on urology and women's health in the United States, western Europe, Canada, Australasia, South America, and South Africa. Market cap of $8.37B. MRQ revenue has increased 22.57% ($1,081.6M vs. $882.4M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 0.94% ($679.4M vs. $673.1M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 38.15% to 36.92%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock has gained 34.43% over the last year.

14. Teleflex Incorporated (NYSE:TFX): Develops, manufactures, and supplies single-use medical devices used by hospitals and healthcare providers worldwide. Market cap of $2.39B. MRQ revenue has increased 7.78% ($371.89M vs. $345.04M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 13.49% ($311.42M vs. $359.97M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 34.52% to 26.25%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-25 to 3 months ending 2010-09-26. The stock has gained 17.93% over the last year.

15. Hill-Rom Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HRC): Provides medical technologies and related services for the health care industry in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $1.90B. MRQ revenue has increased 8.57% ($430.6M vs. $396.6M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 11.89% ($95.6M vs. $108.5M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 14.68% to 12.08%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 6.67% below its SMA20, 5.22% below its SMA50, and 19.36% below its SMA200. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 11.86%.

16. Synovis Life Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ:SYNO): Develops, manufactures, and markets mechanical and biological products used by surgical specialties for the repair of soft tissue damaged or destroyed by disease or injury. Market cap of $204.55M. MRQ revenue has increased 19.16% ($21.02M vs. $17.64M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 1.19% ($9.36M vs. $9.25M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 12.47% to 11.76%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-07-31 to 3 months ending 2010-07-31. The stock has gained 9.59% over the last year.

17. AngioDynamics Inc. (NASDAQ:ANGO): Designs, develops, manufactures, and markets various therapeutic and diagnostic devices that enable interventional physicians to treat PVD, tumors, and other non-coronary diseases. Market cap of $355.97M. MRQ revenue has increased 5.67% ($54.43M vs. $51.51M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 11.49% ($29.67M vs. $33.52M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 19.74% to 14.84%, comparing 13 weeks ending 2011-08-31 to 13 weeks ending 2010-08-31. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 12.62%.

18. St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ): Develops, manufactures, and distributes cardiovascular and implantable neurostimulation medical devices worldwide. Market cap of $11.49B. MRQ revenue has increased 11.51% ($1,382.56M vs. $1,239.9M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 4.34% ($658.76M vs. $688.66M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 21.40% to 19.40%, comparing 13 weeks ending 2011-10-01 to 13 weeks ending 2010-10-02. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 12.01%.

19. The Cooper Companies Inc. (NYSE:COO): Develops, manufactures, and markets healthcare products serving the vision care and women's healthcare markets worldwide. Market cap of $2.83B. MRQ revenue has increased 18.86% ($351.4M vs. $295.63M y/y) while MRQ inventory has increased 3.87% ($243.37M vs. $234.31M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 47.69% to 44.77%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-07-31 to 3 months ending 2010-07-31. The stock is currently stuck in a downtrend, trading 7.11% below its SMA20, 16.52% below its SMA50, and 18.59% below its SMA200. The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 16.98%.

20. Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:LLY): Develops, manufactures, and sells pharmaceutical products worldwide. Market cap of $41.99B. MRQ revenue has increased 8.72% ($6,147.9M vs. $5,654.8M y/y) while MRQ inventory has decreased 6.21% ($2,513.3M vs. $2,679.6M y/y). Inventory/current assets has decreased from 18.89% to 17.25%, comparing 3 months ending 2011-09-30 to 3 months ending 2010-09-30. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up--dividend yield at 5.4%, current ratio at 1.77, and quick ratio at 1.47. The stock has gained 12.96% over the last year.

*Accounting data sourced from Google Finance, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 20 Healthcare Stocks With Strong Sales Trends