Choosing to invest in a company with a broad focus is one of the smartest things investors can do to achieve financial success. In addition to having a varied portfolio of companies, you can also have individual companies with a varied focus. This provides even greater protection over the long haul.
One of my favorite companies offering a variety in the biotech industry is Vertex (VRTX). At around $38, the company is a reasonable investment and offers everything you could want in a biotech stock. It offers reliable earnings from products that are approved and on the market and it has a healthy pipeline. The company is a true standout and there are several specific things I like about it.
One of the best things about Vertex is the fact it already has two successful drugs on the market. Kalydco is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis. The treatment focuses on a small niche in the medical market, but it is the only option of its kind in this niche. The other drug, Incevik is a prescription medicine used in conjunction with two other medicines, peginterferon alfa and ribavirin to treat chronic hepatitis C infections. Vertex is also responsible for a third medication, Lexiva, which was co-discovered with GlaxoSmithKline, is a protease inhibitor used in the treatment of HIV.
In addition to these three drugs, there are eight different drugs in the company's pipeline. This includes one drug in phase 2 trials and two drugs in phase 1 trials for treating hepatitis C, two drugs in phase 2 trials for treating cystic fibrosis, one drug in phase 2 trials for treating immune-mediated inflammatory disease, one drug in phase 2 trials for treating epilepsy, and one drug in phase 1 trials for treating influenza. In addition to the strong pipeline, there is even more on the research horizon. The company is currently focused on more than a dozen different ongoing preclinical programs aimed at some of the world's most serious diseases, including cancer, tuberculosis, Huntington's Disease, multiple sclerosis, and pandemic influenza.
Another of the things I like most about Vertex is its ability to focus on more than one drug and more than one disease. I believe this is a great way to build sustainability and prevent major fiascoes when one or two drugs do not work out as intended. Though some believe this focus can spread a company too thin, I think it builds security and confidence. Companies that focus on a single drug have no hope if that drug fails. This was the case with Keryx (KERX) when its prostate cancer treatment perifosine showed disappointing results in a phase 3 study. The price of Keryx plummeted because the main focus was a failure.
Unlike some biotech companies focusing only on cancer research or diabetes treatment, Vertex is testing drugs for a variety of different conditions. This is another thing I love about this company because it also creates security. If a competitor hits it big with a treatment for a specific disease, Vertex still has plenty of options in other areas. Several quality products, even when the competitors are earning more does not mean your company is going to falter. Look at it this way: I would rather make $10 from 10 different drugs than $50 from only one drug.
Another reason Vertex is one of my favorite options is because it is an affordable biotech stock. Though the price currently hovers around $40, it is still a great value compared to some of the industries most well-known names. For instance, Baxter International (BAX) is going for around $55, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) clocks in at $65, and Becton Dickinson (BDX) is a whopping $78. There are still plenty of options available for less than $10 or $5, but rarely are the pipelines stocked with promising medications.
Though Vertex is my favorite, it is not the only option for buying a company with a varied portfolio. Other standouts include Valeant (VRX) and Questcor (QCOR). Valeant offers both prescriptions and over the counter treatments for dermatology, cosmeceuticals, and neurology. The company recently announced it is moving its headquarters to Quebec, where it will establish a "center of excellence in dermatology." This is one of the most promising biotech companies available right now, and I believe its price is going to soar in the coming months.
Questcor is another great option offering products to help patients with serious, difficult-to-treat medical conditions. The focus is currently on the fields of neurology and nephrology, both areas of medicine which have significant unmet medical needs. The company has a currently marketed product in Acthar Gel, which is an extremely successful earner for Questcor.
Another option I consider a standout among companies with a varied focus is Human Genome Sciences (HGSI). HGSI is the maker of Benlysta, the first FDA approved drug for treating lupus in more than half a century. The company has treatments in its pipeline for Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, too. The benefit of focusing on chronic diseases is the long-term sales commitment, and HGSI and Vertex both offer products that will enjoy repeat sales. This creates a far more stable market for the product.
Investors love Vertex because of its versatility and steady earnings, but I also think it is a great option for tentative investors who do not want to take a huge risk. The price is reasonable, but buyers will likely see steady profits. The best part about a company like Vertex is the lack of usual volatility many biotech stocks experience.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.