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Is it too late to buy Ramsay Health Care Limited shares?

Over the last 30 days the Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX: RHC) share price has been amongst the better performers on the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

During this time the private hospital operator’s shares have climbed almost 9% higher, compared to the market’s 4% gain.

Is it too late to invest?

I don’t believe for a second that it is too late to snap up shares if you are prepared to make a buy and hold investment.

Despite the strong gain it has made this month, Ramsay’s shares are still down over 11% from their 52-week high.

Furthermore, they are changing hands at 28x trailing earnings. I believe this is reasonable for a company with defensive earnings, a market-leading position, and strong long-term growth prospects thanks to ageing populations and increased chronic disease burden.

Ramsay also has the possibility of accelerating its earnings growth through brownfield and greenfield expansions and acquisitions.

One country which Ramsay is yet to have a presence in is China. It pulled out of a joint venture in the country last year, but continues to talk up the opportunity.

I expect that within the next few years we will see Ramsay enter the lucrative China market, potentially giving its bottom line a significant boost.

In light of this, I believe that Ramsay is a great investment option and I would recommend it ahead of industry rivals Primary Health Care Limited (ASX: PRY) and Healthscope Ltd (ASX: HSO).

As well as Ramsay, I think these top growth shares would be great buy and hold investments.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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