Biotechs are often slated as risky investments due to the speculative nature of the sector. It is very difficult to wade through the rumors, lies and false information surrounding biotechs. It is also difficult to predict which biotech will have the next big breakthrough drug.
With that said, there are ways to mitigated risk when investing in this sector. In this article, I will focus on four biotech companies that are decreasing their overall exposure to risk by engaging in different markets to ensure greater stability and increased future growth.
The first stock on my analysis, Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX), has the highest price of the group. The price is right around $55, and I believe it is worth every penny. Valeant features both prescription and over the counter products, as well as several opportunities in its pipeline. Its focus is mainly on dermatology, but it has also dabbled in the neurology market. The company's OTC product line includes skin and hair care, pain relief, vitamins, topical care and other items. Popular brands in the OTC line include CeraVe, Hissyfit, Dermaglow, Ultra, Dermaveen, Nyal, Dr. Renaud, Kinerase and Dr. LeWinn's.
In addition to the company's profitable OTC line, it also has a number of pharmaceutical grade products in the pipeline. Products in phase 2 and phase 3 trials include drugs for treating psoriasis, acne, and fungal infections. Recently, Valeant has received attention following the announcement it will be moving its headquarters from Toronto to Quebec. Its goal is to establish a state-of-the-art center for dermatology in the new location.
Valeant scares off some investors because the price is so high, but it is still considered one of the most popular biotech stocks available. Experts often recommend Elan (ELN) or Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) as less expensive alternatives to Valeant, but I'm sticking with Valeant. It is a good bet for diversifying risk in terms of the market, as well as in terms of the products it sells. There are very few companies with both pharmaceutical and OTC products, which is one of the main reasons I would advise getting your hands on Valeant. It is stable and I anticipate it seeing long-term growth.
My next choice is Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX). Vertex is currently selling for around $40 a share. Its docket includes three approved pharmaceuticals including Kalydeco, Incivek and Lexiva. Vertex saw one of is biggest increases following the FDA approval of Kalydeco. The medication treats cystic fibrosis by targeting a defective protein for patients with a rare form of the disease. Of the 30,000 people in the United States who suffer from cystic fibrosis, approximately 1,200 have the rare mutation. According to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., "Kalydeco is an excellent example of the promise of personalized medicine - targeted drugs that treat patients with a specific genetic makeup. The unique and mutually beneficial partnership that led to the approval of Kalydeco serves as a great model for what companies and patient groups can achieve if they collaborate on drug development."
In addition to Kalydecor, Vertex also features Incivek, a drug intended to treat hepatitis C. It was approved by the FDA in 2011 and has hastened the treatment of hepatitis for most patients from 48 to 24 weeks. It has also proven to reduce cirrhosis and complications of liver disease, as well as liver cancer in patients suffering from hepatitis C.
The final vertex approved drug is Lexiva, an antiretroviral medication intended to treat patients suffering from HIV. Vertex has several drugs in its pipeline including three treatments for hepatitis C, two more for cystic fibrosis, one for immune-mediate anti-inflammatory disease, one for epilepsy, and one for influenza. There is no denying three approved drugs is a big deal when it comes to investing, especially for a company that also has a solid pipeline. Vertex is a strong stock I would invest in without a second thought.
My third high value for a high price stock is Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR). The price is around $40 at the moment, but its unorthodox approach should keep its growth steady in the coming months. The company has two drugs that have been approved for the market. Doral is a treatment for insomnia and H.P. Acthar is intended to treat a variety of disorders with an inflammatory component, specifically multiple sclerosis. While the majority of Questcor's attention is on Acthar, it is testing the drug for treatment of a variety of conditions other than multiple sclerosis. The company's hyper focus on one drug is unusual, but it has garnered a great deal of success so far.
My final choice for buying big is actually a moderately priced stock. Vivus (VVUS) is selling for about $23 at the moment, but I anticipate its price climbing in the coming months. The company is responsible for the development of Qnexa, a weight loss drug that has already received positive feedback from the FDA. The drug is due to receive final approval in April, but is expected to sail through without a problem. It will be the first weight loss drug to receive approval in more than 10 years. Qnexa is also being studied for use in the treatment of patients with diabetes.
If you are usually reluctant to buy a stock when its price is high regardless of its value, you are not alone. Many investors write off a stock, regardless of its performance, once it reaches a certain price. This can be a smart move in many cases because a buying at a high price often means you will never see a big return. However, high value stocks should not be discounted, especially in the biotech market. These four stocks would be my first choice for investing in biotech.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.