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Interested in the defensive sector of healthcare? For ideas of how to get started on your stock search, we ran a screen.

We screened the healthcare sector for stocks seeing the highest net institutional purchases over the current quarter, indicating that institutional investors such as hedge fund managers and mutual fund managers believe these stocks will outperform.

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 agree with hedge funds that these stocks will outperform? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by net institutional purchases as a percent of share float.

1. Raptor Pharmaceuticals Corp. (NASDAQ:RPTP): Operates as a biotechnology company in the United States. Market cap of $302.38M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.1M, which is 19.83% of the company's 45.90M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.39% (equivalent to 9.78 days of average volume). The stock has gained 74.38% over the last year.

2. Amyris, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMRS): An integrated renewable products company, offers renewable compounds for a variety of markets. Market cap of $478.28M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.6M, which is 18.43% of the company's 14.11M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 16.39% (equivalent to 25.43 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 7.41% over the last week.

3. VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS): Engages in the development and commercialization of therapeutic products for underserved markets in the United States. Market cap of $1.06B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.9M, which is 17.28% of the company's 57.30M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 18.2% (equivalent to 9.24 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 15.63%.

4. InterMune Inc. (NASDAQ:ITMN): Focuses on developing and commercializing therapies in pulmonology and hepatology. Market cap of $913.86M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 8.1M, which is 15.35% of the company's 52.77M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.31). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 8.94% over the last week. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.42%.

5. USANA Health Sciences Inc. (NYSE:USNA): Develops, manufactures, distributes, and sells nutritional and personal care products worldwide. Market cap of $497.87M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 729.8K, which is 10.78% of the company's 6.77M share float. Might be undervalued at current levels, with a PEG ratio at 0.66, and P/FCF ratio at 7.75. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 34.5% (equivalent to 35.28 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.72%.

6. IPC The Hospitalist Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPCM): Provides hospitalist services in the United States. Market cap of $538.41M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.7M, which is 10.66% of the company's 15.95M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 17% (equivalent to 12.59 days of average volume). The stock has performed poorly over the last month, losing 28.49%.

7. China Kanghui Holdings (NYSE:KH): Develops, manufactures, and markets orthopedic implants and associated instruments. Market cap of $387.04M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.1M, which is 10.19% of the company's 10.79M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 11.24% (equivalent to 31.55 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.27% over the last week.

8. Dynavax Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ:DVAX): A clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, discovers and develops novel products to prevent and treat infectious diseases. Market cap of $390.66M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 11.0M, which is 9.30% of the company's 118.32M share float. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 2.74). The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.17% (equivalent to 8.98 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 8.4% over the last week.

9. Express Scripts Inc. (NASDAQ:ESRX): Provides a range of pharmacy benefit management ((NYSEMKT:PBM)) services in North America. Market cap of $25.13B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 43.4M, which is 8.99% of the company's 482.82M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 16.85% (equivalent to 11.96 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.11% over the last week.

10. Simcere Pharmaceutical Group. (NYSE:SCR): Develops, manufactures, and markets branded generic and proprietary pharmaceuticals in China. Market cap of $474.32M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.2M, which is 8.21% of the company's 14.62M share float. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.65%.

11. Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:IRWD): Develops, and commercializes medicines targeting therapeutic needs. Market cap of $1.35B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 5.9M, which is 8.0% of the company's 73.79M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 9.89% (equivalent to 21.12 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 10.74% over the last week.

12. DENTSPLY International Inc. (NASDAQ:XRAY): Designs, develops, manufactures, and markets dental consumable products, dental laboratory products, and dental specialty products worldwide. Market cap of $5.37B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 10.7M, which is 7.59% of the company's 140.89M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 7.57% (equivalent to 8.69 days of average volume). The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.13% over the last week.

13. MAKO Surgical Corp. (NASDAQ:MAKO): A medical device company, markets its advanced robotic arm solution and orthopedic implants for orthopedic procedures in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $1.43B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.5M, which is 6.82% of the company's 36.64M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 28.58% (equivalent to 10.53 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 28.64%.

14. Opko Health, Inc. (NYSE:OPK): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel and proprietary technologies primarily in the United States, Chile, and Mexico. Market cap of $1.51B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 9.0M, which is 6.82% of the company's 131.92M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 14.47% (equivalent to 13.02 days of average volume). The stock has gained 49.14% over the last year.

15. Seattle Genetics Inc. (NASDAQ:SGEN): Focuses on the development and commercialization of monoclonal antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune diseases in the United States. Market cap of $2.03B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 7.1M, which is 6.26% of the company's 113.40M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 23.43% (equivalent to 15.67 days of average volume). The stock has gained 12.46% over the last year.

16. The Ensign Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:ENSG): Provides nursing and rehabilitative care services in California, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho. Market cap of $529.15M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 988.1K, which is 6.01% of the company's 16.45M share float. The stock has gained 6.63% over the last year.

17. Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:RIGL): Engages in the discovery and development of small-molecule drugs for the treatment of inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, as well as for certain cancers and metabolic diseases. Market cap of $574.19M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.3M, which is 5.78% of the company's 57.08M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.29% (equivalent to 16.21 days of average volume). The stock has gained 14% over the last year.

18. ICON plc (NASDAQ:ICLR): Provides outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device industries primarily in Ireland, the United States, and rest of Europe. Market cap of $1.10B. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.3M, which is 5.68% of the company's 58.09M share float. The stock has lost 20% over the last year.

19. Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN): Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases. Market cap of $642.31M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.7M, which is 5.62% of the company's 48.05M share float. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 10.27% (equivalent to 5.34 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 19.3%.

20. QLT Inc. (NASDAQ:QLTI): Engages in the development and commercialization of therapies for the eye. Market cap of $332.68M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.4M, which is 4.76% of the company's 29.40M share float. The stock has lost 6.49% over the last year.

*Institutional data sourced from Fidelity, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: Hedge Funds Are Buying Up These 20 Healthcare Stocks