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Because biotech firms often have projects with very long time horizons (such as 10 years or longer), they can sometimes operate for years without generating a profit. With this in mind, we searched for biotech stocks with a positive net profit margin for the trailing twelve months that is at least 10% higher than the prior year’s margin. We then screened for stocks with low total debt to assets in the most recent quarter.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the top six stocks mentioned below. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

We also created a price-weighted index of the stocks mentioned below, and monitored the performance of the list relative to the S&P 500 index over the last month. To access a complete analysis of this list's recent performance, click here.

List sorted by TTM net profit margin.

1. DepoMed Inc. (NASDAQ:DEPO): Drug Manufacturers Industry. Market cap of $446.0M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.01. TTM net profit margin at 71.74% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -24.80%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 12.4% (equivalent to 7.87 days of average volume). The stock has gained 217.18% over the last year.

2. Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:MNTA): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $992.08M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.01. TTM net profit margin at 57.71% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -311.75%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 15.97% (equivalent to 11.58 days of average volume). It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 5.66% over the last week.

3. China Biologic Products, Inc. (NASDAQ:CBPO): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $224.26M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.04. TTM net profit margin at 31.96% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at 21.90%. The stock is a short squeeze candidate, with a short float at 8.13% (equivalent to 19.55 days of average volume).It's been a rough couple of days for the stock, losing 14.96% over the last week.

4. AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $711.27M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.09. TTM net profit margin at 24.46% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -175.67%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 14.2%.

5. Targacept, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRGT): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $628.87M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.01. TTM net profit margin at 15.87% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -72.67%. This is a risky stock that is significantly more volatile than the overall market (beta = 3.09). The stock has gained 15.04% over the last year.

6. Neurocrine Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ:NBIX): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $442.70M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.02. TTM net profit margin at 7.84% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -1352.11%. The stock has had a good month, gaining 11.23%.

7. Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPPI): Biotechnology Industry. Market cap of $553.19M. MRQ total debt to assets at 0.00. TTM net profit margin at 2.76% vs. prior-year TTM net profit margin at -166.45%. Exhibiting strong upside momentum--currently trading 16.31% above its SMA20, 23.38% above its SMA50, and 55.2% above its SMA200. The stock has had a couple of great days, gaining 5.77% over the last week.

Net margin and total debt to assets data sourced from Screener.co, all other data sourced from Finviz.

Source: 7 Low-Debt Biotech Stocks With Improving Profitability