This year was another in which investors were treated to splendid performances by the health care sector.

The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV) appears destined to finish the year second behind the Utilities Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLU) for top honors among the nine sector SPDR ETFs, but XLV’s 26.5% year-to-date gain does not tell the whole health care sector story.

Five of the top 10 sector ETFs in 2014 are health care funds. Health care’s out-performance is not new. Over the past three years, the average number of health care funds among those years’ 10-best sector ETFs is over three. [Dominant Health Care ETFs]

Rightfully so, extended dominance by the health care should make investors question whether the sector’s bullishness can continue in 2015. A look at the Vanguard Health Care ETF (NYSEArca: VHT) says the answer is “yes,” but investors will do well to protect their profits.

“Since a major RS low was hit back in Feb. 2011, it has paid to be long and stay long Health Care. Sure, there have been periods of underperformance, but the intermediate-term trend has been rock steady and that remains the case today. One thing perhaps that a tactical investor might have an eye on could be that VHT is now approaching the top of its 2011 relative strength uptrend channel. A breakout could accelerate the RS streak, but failure to breakout could open the door for some profit taking. However, it would take a breakdown below the bottom of the uptrend channel to seriously impact this longer-term relative strength call,” according to Jonathan Beck of J. Beck Investments.

VHT, one of the largest health care ETFs after XLV, is up 25.5% this year. In addition to its 22.1% weight to the biotech industry, VHT has thrived due to its substantial exposure to blue chip pharmaceutical names, a trait the ETF shares with rivals such as XLV.

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