I believe one of the keys to smart biotech investing is to focus on companies that are treating chronic diseases. Instead of looking to cure something, the treatments developed and marketed by these companies will help patients manage symptoms. This ensures long-term success and allows you to invest your money in a company that is protecting its own security. There are five standout companies in the biotech industry that I consider the best bets for those who want a long term, steady earner.
The first company I have been watching for awhile is Human Genome Sciences (HGSI). The company is poised to make a big splash in 2012, due to its focus on treatments that will affect the baby boomer generation. The company reached a 52-week high of $30 per share at one point, but plummeted to just $6 per share in the last year. The price is currently around $7. HGSI released Benlysta in 2011, a treatment for adult patients with active systemic lupus who are currently receiving standard therapy. Benlysta was the first drug approved to treat lupus in more than 50 years and I believe it will bring steady earnings in the upcoming months. Lupus is a chronic disease, so Benlysta sales are predicted to be steady.
In addition to Benlysta, HGSI, in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), reported successful results from phase 3 trials of a drug intended to treat Type 2 diabetes. An April news release provided more information about the testing, showing seven of its eight Harmony Phase III trials as successful.
The second company to consider for steady earnings treating chronic diseases is VIVUS (VVUS). The company was considered one of the biggest success stories this past winter and many investors have their eye on the company's latest development, the weight loss drug Qnexa. In addition to Qnexa, Vivus recently announced acceptance of Avanafil application in Europe. Coupled with the expected success of Qnexa, Avanafil will likely keep Vivus in the investor spotlight for a long time to come. The price is currently around $22.
One of the more expensive options on my list of companies focused on treating chronic problems is Vertex (VRTX). The company is a reasonable investment at around $37 and has solid, reliable earnings from products already on the market. It also has a healthy pipeline and a broad focus that offers plenty of no-miss opportunities. Vertex has two products already on the market. Kalydco is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of cystic fibrosis in patients who have a certain mutation in their CF gene called the G551D mutation. The treatment focuses on a small niche in the market, but it is the only option available for this niche. Incevik, the second of the company's marketed drugs, is a prescription medicine used to treat chronic hepatitis C infections in adults with stable liver problems.
Vertex also has eight products in the pipeline, several of which focus on treating chronic health conditions. The collection features one drug in phase 2 trials and two drugs in phase one 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, and one drug in phase 2 trials for treating epilepsy.
The next option on the list is Questcor (QCOR), selling for around $41. Questcor is a biopharmaceutical company with products designed to help patients with serious, difficult-to-treat medical conditions. Its focus is on neurology and nephrology, as well as research efforts in a variety of conditions having significant unmet medical need. Though the company has two drugs currently on the market, the majority of its focus is on Acthar. The drug is capable of treating multiple sclerosis, infantile spasms, and nephrotic syndrome, and Questcor is unique in that it is almost completely focused on the development and marketing of Acthar. The company is focused on offering new uses for the compound and the earnings generated y Achar is considered sustainable because the drug works and will continue to be prescribed by doctors.
The final option on my list of companies focused on treating chronic conditions is Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (SPPI). It is currently selling for right around $11 at the moment, but I believe prices will soar in the coming months. Spectrum is a biopharmaceutical company that acquires, develops, and commercializes a diversified portfolio of oncology and other drug candidates that meet critical health challenges for which there are few other treatment options. The company has a broad and diverse portfolio and focuses on long term treatment in the urology and oncology fields.
Spectrum already has a selection of approved drugs already on the market including Fusilev and Zevalin. Fusilev was approved in April 2011 and is for the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. Prior to this use, the drug was approved in 2008 as a high-dose methotrexate rescue therapy in osteosarcoma. Zevalin is a proprietary biological drug for treating indolent non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Though many prefer not to view cancer as a chronic disease, the medical field is moving in that direction. There is no cure and there is a chance there will never be a cure. If a company is able to help patients manage their disease, it will be successful. People are living with cancer and now have more treatment options than ever and there is a growing market of treatments allowing people to live longer with cancer.
Another reason I believe Spectrum is a good investment is due to its recent purchase of Allos Therapeutics. Spectrum announced its acquisition shortly after bad news concerning its drug Apaziquone and the news is expected to offset much of the damage financially. Spectrum also has a strong public relations campaign in action and has created a patient-to-patient education program to spread the word about its drugs.
There are many reasons to invest in a company, but I believe one of the best things an investor can do is look for a company that has long-term solvency. When medications are intended to treat chronic conditions, there is a built-in long-term market. This makes a biotech company a smart investment.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.