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Interested in the defensive sector of healthcare stocks? If so, here are some ideas to get started on your search.

We ran a screen on the healthcare sector for stocks receiving "Outperform" ratings by Robert W. Baird & Co. (analysts at Robert W. Baird believe these stocks will outperform in the near future).

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.

(Click chart for more detail)

Do you think these stocks will outperform like these analysts expect? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

List sorted by ratings date.

1. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN): Develops, and commercializes pharmaceutical products for the treatment of serious medical conditions in the United States. Market cap of $7.25B. On 01/10/2012, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 12.52% (equivalent to 6.39 days of average volume). The stock has had a good month, gaining 47.24%.

2. Vanguard Health Systems Inc. (NYSE:VHS): Engages in the ownership and operation of acute care hospitals, outpatient facilities, and related health plans primarily in urban and suburban markets in the United States. Market cap of $880.70M. On 08/01/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock has had a good month, gaining 23.09%.

3. AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAG): Engages in the development and commercialization of a therapeutic iron compound to treat iron deficiency anemia. Market cap of $352.77M. On 05/31/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 6.16% (equivalent to 6.1 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.08% over the last week.

4. Mine Safety Appliances Co. (NYSE: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 $1.26B. On 04/29/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. Offers a good dividend, and appears to have good liquidity to back it up--dividend yield at 3.01%, current ratio at 2.71, and quick ratio at 1.83. The stock has gained 16.24% over the last year.

5. Abiomed Inc. (NASDAQ:ABMD): Engages in the research, development, and sale of medical devices that provide circulatory support to acute heart failure patients across the continuum of care in heart recovery. Market cap of $717.79M. On 04/29/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock has gained 96.1% over the last year.

6. HCA Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:HCA): Offers health care services in the United States. Market cap of $10.70B. On 04/19/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.06% over the last week.

7. Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (CBST): Operates as a biopharmaceutical company focused on the research, development, and commercialization of pharmaceutical products that address unmet medical needs in the acute care environment. Market cap of $2.48B. On 04/05/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 16.83% (equivalent to 11.49 days of average volume). The stock has gained 86.93% over the last year.

8. Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:ZMH): Engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of orthopaedic reconstructive implants, spinal and trauma devices, dental implants, and related surgical products. Market cap of $10.04B. On 02/18/2011, Robert W. Baird had an Outperform rating on the stock. The stock has had a good month, gaining 17.51%.

*Data sourced from Yahoo! Finance.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

Source: 8 Healthcare Stocks Rated Outperform By Robert W. Baird