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By Bert Wilkison

Below is a list of heavily traded equities in the biotech/biopharma space that are currently receiving the most positive coverage from analyst firms. Each of them has at least 10 analysts covering them with "buy" or "strong buy" ratings. It also includes each company's respective pipelines.

1. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 19

Gilead is a company focused on the development and commercialization of human therapeutics for life threatening diseases. It has operations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

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Its stock currently trades at $49.16 with 751.14M shares out, giving it a market cap of $36.93B. Institutional ownership stands at about 88% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 13.83M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $51, with the highest estimate being $62.

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2. Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ:CELG)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 18

Celgene is a global integrated biopharmaceutical company that is primarily engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapies designed to treat cancer and immune-inflammatory related diseases.

Its stock currently trades at $73.92 with 437M shares out, giving it a market cap of $32.30B. Institutional ownership stands at about 86% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 9.16M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $84.50, with the highest estimate being $102.

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3. Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 15

Amgen is an independent biotechnology medicines company. It discovers, develops, manufactures and markets medicines for grievous illnesses and focuses on human therapeutics and concentrates on medicines based on advances in cellular and molecular biology.

Its stock currently trades at $69.84 with 796M shares out, giving it a market cap of $55.59B. Institutional ownership stands at about 89% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 17.9M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $72, with the highest estimate being $78.

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4. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXN)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 14

Alexion is a biopharmaceutical company that is engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic products aimed at treating patients with severe and life-threatening disease states, including those in the therapeutic areas of hematology, nephrology, neurology, ophthalmology and cancer.

Its stock currently trades at $77.32 with 185.15M shares out, giving it a market cap of $14.32B. Institutional ownership stands at about 97% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 3.55M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $77.50, with the highest estimate being $84.

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5. Incyte Corp. (NASDAQ:INCY)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 14

Incyte is a drug discovery and development company focused on developing small molecule drugs to treat serious unmet medical needs. Its pipeline is focused in the areas of oncology and inflammation and includes compounds in various stages of development, ranging from preclinical to late-stage development.

Its stock currently trades at $18.01 with 126.31 shares out, giving it a market cap of $2.27B. Institutional ownership stands at about 100% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 19.37M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $23, with the highest estimate being $27.

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6. Biogen Idec, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIIB)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 13

Biogen Idec is a global biotechnology company focused on discovering, developing, manufacturing and marketing products for the treatment of neurological disorders and other serious diseases.

Its stock currently trades at $121.26 with 242.92M shares out, giving it a market cap of $29.46B. Institutional ownership stands at about 85% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 2.32M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $129, with the highest estimate being $136.

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7. InterMune, Inc. (NASDAQ:ITMN)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 13

InterMune is a biotechnology company focused on the research, development and commercialization of therapies in pulmonology and fibrotic diseases.

Its stock currently trades at $15.41 with 65.51M shares out, giving it a market cap of $1.01B. Institutional ownership stands at about 100% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 9.30M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $37, with the highest estimate being $45.

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8. Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 12

Achillion is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases.

Its stock currently trades at $11.09 with 69.74M shares out, giving it a market cap of $773.46M. Institutional ownership stands at about 98% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 6.71M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $15, with the highest estimate being $20.

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9. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN)

Number of Analysts with Buy or Strong Buy Ratings: 10

Regeneron is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes pharmaceutical products for the treatment of serious medical conditions.

Its stock currently trades at $92.49 with 92.58M shares out, giving it a market cap of $8.56B. Institutional ownership stands at about 73% and the total reported short interest as of 01/13/12 was 7.46M shares. The consensus analyst 12-month price target is $79, with the highest estimate being $105.

Of all the above names, I like what many would consider the riskiest two of the bunch, ITMN and ACHN, and I like them mostly due to their potential upside versus the rest. That's not to say I don't also own and eye the rest of them regularly for additional buying and selling opportunities.

Source: 9 Biotechs Gaining Analyst Attention