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The healthcare sector is generally considered a growth sector, although many of the names are large-caps that pay big dividends. For a closer look at the different stocks of this varied sector, we ran a screen.

We screened for US-traded healthcare names whose profitability has exceeded their peers over the last year, beating their industry averages with higher gross, operating, and pretax margins. This indicates that these companies are taking a greater percentage of sales as profits.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in market cap 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 will continue to see superior profitability? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis.

1. Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET): Operates as a diversified health care benefits company in the United States. TTM gross margin at 30.34% vs. industry average at 20.43%. TTM operating margin at 10.25% vs. industry average at 8.25%.TTM pretax margin at 9.11% vs. industry average at 6.7%.

2. Align Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:ALGN): Designs, manufactures, and markets the invisalign system for treating malocclusion or the misalignment of teeth. TTM gross margin at 78.52% vs. industry average at 65.65%. TTM operating margin at 20.93% vs. industry average at 14.12%.TTM pretax margin at 18.75% vs. industry average at 10.93%.

3. Chemed Corp. (NYSE:CHE): Provides hospice care, and repair and cleaning services in the United States. TTM gross margin at 28.12% vs. industry average at 20.43%. TTM operating margin at 11.6% vs. industry average at 8.25%.TTM pretax margin at 10.37% vs. industry average at 6.7%.

4. The Cooper Companies Inc. (NYSE:COO): Develops, manufactures, and markets healthcare products serving the vision care and women's healthcare markets worldwide. TTM gross margin at 66.49% vs. industry average at 65.49%. TTM operating margin at 19.42% vs. industry average at 13.88%.TTM pretax margin at 14.99% vs. industry average at 10.85%.

5. DaVita, Inc. (NYSE:DVA): Provides kidney dialysis services in the United States. TTM gross margin at 32.96% vs. industry average at 20.83%. TTM operating margin at 16.72% vs. industry average at 8.37%.TTM pretax margin at 12.78% vs. industry average at 6.83%.

6. Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:ENDP): Operates as a specialty healthcare solutions company in the United States. TTM gross margin at 69.68% vs. industry average at 65.12%. TTM operating margin at 24.52% vs. industry average at 14.87%.TTM pretax margin at 12.88% vs. industry average at 6.85%.

7. Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE:EW): Offers products and technologies designed to treat advanced cardiovascular disease worldwide. TTM gross margin at 74.28% vs. industry average at 65.65%. TTM operating margin at 17.88% vs. industry average at 14.12%.TTM pretax margin at 16.9% vs. industry average at 10.93%.

8. IPC The Hospitalist Company, Inc. (NASDAQ:IPCM): Provides hospitalist services in the United States. TTM gross margin at 26.77% vs. industry average at 20.86%. TTM operating margin at 10.06% vs. industry average at 8.38%.TTM pretax margin at 10.24% vs. industry average at 6.83%.

9. Lifepoint Hospitals Inc. (NASDAQ:LPNT): Operates general acute care hospitals in non-urban communities in the United States. TTM gross margin at 21.34% vs. industry average at 20.86%. TTM operating margin at 11.36% vs. industry average at 8.38%.TTM pretax margin at 8.7% vs. industry average at 6.83%.

10. Masimo Corporation (NASDAQ:MASI): Develops, manufactures, and markets noninvasive patient monitoring products worldwide. TTM gross margin at 68.68% vs. industry average at 65.49%. TTM operating margin at 19.71% vs. industry average at 13.88%.TTM pretax margin at 19.71% vs. industry average at 10.85%.

11. Nordion Inc. (NYSE:NDZ): Provides various products and services used for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases worldwide. TTM gross margin at 53.41% vs. industry average at 52.22%. TTM operating margin at 17.05% vs. industry average at 9.84%.TTM pretax margin at 9.7% vs. industry average at 6.1%.

12. Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE:SNN): Develops, manufactures, markets, and sells medical devices in the orthopaedics, endoscopy, and advanced wound management sectors worldwide. TTM gross margin at 80.47% vs. industry average at 65.49%. TTM operating margin at 21.66% vs. industry average at 13.88%.TTM pretax margin at 19.86% vs. industry average at 10.85%.

13. St. Jude Medical Inc. (NYSE:STJ): Develops, manufactures, and distributes cardiovascular and implantable neurostimulation medical devices worldwide. TTM gross margin at 79.34% vs. industry average at 65.49%. TTM operating margin at 24.97% vs. industry average at 13.88%.TTM pretax margin at 18.16% vs. industry average at 10.85%.

14. Stryker Corp. (NYSE:SYK): Operates as a medical technology company worldwide. TTM gross margin at 69.81% vs. industry average at 65.49%. TTM operating margin at 23.73% vs. industry average at 13.88%.TTM pretax margin at 20.3% vs. industry average at 10.85%.

15. Unitedhealth Group, Inc. (NYSE:UNH): Provides healthcare services in the United States. TTM gross margin at 24.69% vs. industry average at 20.43%. TTM operating margin at 8.31% vs. industry average at 8.25%.TTM pretax margin at 7.81% vs. industry average at 6.7%.

16. Warner Chilcottplc (NASDAQ:WCRX): Focuses on the development, manufacture, and promotion of branded pharmaceutical products in women's healthcare, gastroenterology, dermatology, and urology segments in North America and western Europe markets. TTM gross margin at 89.52% vs. industry average at 65.12%. TTM operating margin at 28.4% vs. industry average at 14.87%.TTM pretax margin at 11.01% vs. industry average at 6.85%.

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

Source: 16 Healthcare Stocks With Impressive Profitability