The healthcare sector, the third-largest sector allocation in the S&P 500, has been pointed to as an obvious laggard this year. Much of that has to do with struggling biotechnology and pharmaceuticals stocks, which have been plagued presidential election year politics.

However, there have been pockets of strength in the healthcare space, including medical device manufacturing companies. The iShares U.S. Medical Devices ETF (NYSEArca: IHI), the largest dedicated medical devices exchange traded fund, is one of the avenues to gain focused exposure to medical device makers, particularly large-cap names.

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IHI, which has recently been making a series of new highs, is up 19% year-to-date while the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV) is up just a tenth of a percent.

“Medical systems and equipment is up about 20% as a group, while the medical products group has climbed some 15%. Since the market low of June, however, biotechs and generic-drug stocks have made much stronger gains. Still, the medical equipment subset is up 18% in that period and the products group is up 15% — better than nearly all other health care groups,” reports Investor’s Business Daily.

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