(Bloomberg) -- European drugmakers that are focused on building portfolios of new medicines have gotten a nod from analysts at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

The analysts initiated coverage of six large-cap pharmaceutical stocks on Thursday, saying “innovation is the key to success.” They gave buy ratings to AstraZeneca Plc, Novo Nordisk A/S and Novartis AG, and are neutral on GSK Plc and Bayer AG. Roche Holding AG is their sole sell rating.

“For Novo, we see upside driven by de-risking of pipeline opportunities in obesity,” analysts including James Quigley wrote in a note. “We like Astra’s best-in-class pipeline and solid margin progression.”

The Stoxx 600 Health Care Index is up more than 9% this year, with Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca the top gainers by index points. Novo’s blockbuster Wegovy and Ozempic drugs helped the Danish drugmaker’s market capitalization surpass $500 billion this year.

Novo has been developing a number of experimental next-generation obesity treatments including CagriSema, which combines the medicine in Wegovy with another compound for weight loss. The company has also released promising data on an experimental daily pill.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca plans to build a $1.5 billion manufacturing facility in Singapore to make antibody-drug conjugates, a new class of drugs that deliver high medicine doses directly to tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues. It’s also pushing into radiopharmaceuticals, which promise even more precision. The British drugmaker aims to almost double sales to $80 billion by 2030.

The Goldman analysts cited Novartis’s “continued strong execution” for their buy rating. The Swiss company is pushing for growth after years of successive revamps and this month agreed to buy US biotech Mariana Oncology Inc. to strengthen its pipeline of drugs that can specifically target cancer cells. It’s also in the process of buying MorphoSys AG, a German biotech that has a late-stage trial underway for a drug that could treat myelofibrosis, a cancer affecting the bone marrow.

--With assistance from Thyagu Adinarayan.

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