3 Healthcare Stocks in the Investing Spotlight Ahead of Earnings

Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBST) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, January 19, 2012. The average estimate of analysts is for net income of 29 cents per share, a decline of 32.6% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved down from 31 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved down. It also has dropped from 30 cents during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 57.2% versus last year to 74 cents.

Last quarter, the company beat estimates by one cent, coming in at profit of 33 cents a share versus the estimate of net income of 32 cents a share. It marked the fourth straight quarter of beating estimates. On average, analysts predict $204.7 million in revenue this quarter, a rise of 26.5% from the year ago quarter. Analysts are forecasting total revenue of $745.8 million for the year, a rise of 17.2% from last year’s revenue of $636.5 million.

Competitors to Watch: Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:OPTR), Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (NASDAQ:TEVA), Theravance, Inc. (NASDAQ:THRX), MiddleBrook Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (MBRKQ), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS), The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO), Insite Vision Inc. (INSV), and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT).

UnitedHealth Group, Inc. (NYSE:UNH) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, January 19, 2012. The average estimate of analysts is for profit of $1.02 per share, a rise of 8.5% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from 87 cents. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has risen from $1 during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 11.7% versus last year to $4.58.

Last quarter, the company beat estimates by 5 cents, coming in at net income of $1.17 a share versus the estimate of profit of $1.12 a share. It marked the fourth straight quarter of beating estimates. Analysts are projecting a rise of 6.9% in revenue from the year-earlier quarter to $25.7 billion.

Competitors to Watch: Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET), Health Net, Inc. (NYSE:HNT), Coventry Health Care, Inc. (NYSE:CVH), Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM), WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE:WLP), CIGNA Corporation (NYSE:CI), WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE:WCG), Universal American Corp. (NYSE:UAM), Centene Corporation (NYSE:CNC), and HealthSpring, Inc (NYSE:HS).

Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG) will unveil its latest earnings on Thursday, January 19, 2012. The average estimate of analysts is for net income of $3.34 per share, a rise of 10.6% from the company’s actual earnings for the same quarter a year ago. During the past three months, the average estimate has moved up from $3.23. Between one and three months ago, the average estimate moved up. It has dropped from $3.36 during the last month. Analysts are projecting profit to rise by 25.6% versus last year to $11.89.

The company has beaten estimates the last four quarters and is coming off a quarter where it topped forecasts by 29 cents, reporting profit of $3.05 per share against a mean estimate of net income of $2.76 per share. On average, analysts predict $483.7 million in revenue this quarter, a rise of 24.3% from the year ago quarter. Analysts are forecasting total revenue of $1.74 billion for the year, a rise of 23.4% from last year’s revenue of $1.41 billion.

Competitors to Watch: Stryker Corporation (NYSE:SYK), Bovie Medical Corporation (AMEX:BVX), Synovis Life Tech., Inc. (NASDAQ:SYNO), CryoLife, Inc. (NYSE:CRY), Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT), Smith & Nephew plc (NYSE:SNN), Vision-Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:VSCI), CONMED Corporation (NASDAQ:CNMD) and The Cooper Companies, Inc. (NYSE:COO).