5 Biotech Stocks Worth Adding to Your Watchlist

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Written By Dean McHugh

In the dynamic world of biotech stocks, savvy investors are always on the lookout for promising opportunities.

A critical aspect of this evaluation is scrutinizing various fundamental and technical metrics. Among the myriad of options, five biotech stocks currently stand out.

These are Amphastar Pharmaceuticals (AMPH), Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX), Immunogen (IMGN), and Harpoon Therapeutics (HARP).

1. Amphastar Pharmaceuticals (AMPH)

Topping the list is Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, a front-runner in the biotech industry. This company has carved a niche in developing, manufacturing, and selling an array of injectable drugs, along with exploring inhaled and nasal delivery methods.

A notable highlight of their recent achievements includes a surge in third-quarter sales by an impressive 50%, amounting to $180.56 million. Their adjusted earnings saw a remarkable 203% increase, reaching $1.15 per share.

Credit: DepositPhotos

This financial uptick follows their strategic acquisition of Baqsimi, a nasally administered medication essential for diabetes patients experiencing low blood sugar, which contributed $28.7 million to their third-quarter sales.

The acquisition from Eli Lilly (LLY) is a significant move, with Lilly continuing the sales before transitioning the distribution rights to Amphastar.

A key revenue generator for Amphastar has been glucagon, a treatment for low blood sugar, witnessing a 107% sales increase to $29.5 million.

Another product, the asthma inhaler Primatene Mist, also saw a 35% increase in sales to $24.8 million. However, it’s noteworthy that sales in other areas, such as synthetic vitamin K and an overdose medication, have declined.

The stock market response to Amphastar’s performance has been notable. The company’s stock broke out of a cup-with-handle base, topping a buy point at 58.35 on December 1, as per MarketSmith.com

However, a subsequent dip below the entry point triggered a sell rule, emphasizing the volatile nature of biotech investments. Despite this, Amphastar boasts a perfect Composite Rating of 99 and a high Relative Strength Rating of 91, underscoring its status as a Tech Leader in the biotech sector.

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2. Neurocrine Biosciences (NBIX)

Neurocrine Biosciences, despite facing recent setbacks in its seizure and depression treatment studies, continues to be a top-rated biotech stock. The company experienced a blow when a treatment for focal onset seizures did not meet efficacy expectations, and a depression treatment similarly fell short in a proof-of-concept study. However, Neurocrine’s resilience is evident in its financial reports.

The company’s total sales in the third quarter rose by nearly 29% to $499 million, surpassing the expected $479.1 million.

Adjusted earnings also exceeded forecasts, coming in at $1.54 per share, a 43% increase. This growth was primarily driven by Ingrezza, a treatment for tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder.

Neurocrine’s stock has shown robust performance, breaking out of a cup-with-handle base with a buy point at 119.29 on December 6 and maintaining its position well above the buy zone. With a Composite Rating of 97 and a Relative Strength Rating of 87, the stock remains a strong contender in the biotech field and a recognized Tech Leader.

3. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX)

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a giant in the biotech sector with a market cap second only to Amgen (AMGN), is known for its dominance in the cystic fibrosis drug market. The company’s third-quarter sales, primarily driven by its triple regimen Trikafta, witnessed an 18% increase, reaching $2.33 billion.

However, Vertex is not resting on its laurels in cystic fibrosis but is expanding into other areas. In collaboration with Crispr Therapeutics (CRSP), it recently gained FDA approval for a gene-editing approach to treat sickle cell disease, a significant breakthrough in blood disorder treatment.

The treatment, now known as Casgevy, is also approved in the UK and is priced at $2.1 million for a single treatment.

Additionally, Vertex acquired ViaCyte, its partner in diabetes treatment, and is making strides in testing a cell replacement drug for type 1 diabetes. A notable development is Vertex’s alternative pain treatment, which showed promising results in reducing pain levels for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

The stock market response to Vertex’s achievements and potential has been positive. The company’s stock broke out of a flat base with a buy point at 387.42 on December 13, propelled by the news of its pain drug.

The stock is now well above the buy zone, with a Composite Rating of 97 and a Relative Strength Rating of 89. It remains above its key moving averages, reinforcing its position as a leader in the biotech sector and a Tech Leader.

4. Immunogen (IMGN)

ImmunoGen has made significant strides with its targeted cancer treatment, Elahere, approved for patients with fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer.

In a significant development, AbbVie (ABBV) announced a $10.1 billion plan to acquire ImmunoGen, a testament to the value and potential of its offerings.

In the third quarter, sales of Elahere amounted to $105.2 million, contributing significantly to the total revenue of $113.4 million, surpassing analysts’ expectations.

This financial success marked ImmunoGen’s first profit in 11 quarters. The acquisition by AbbVie is set to broaden ImmunoGen’s reach, particularly in the early treatment paradigm.

ImmunoGen’s expertise in the antibody drug conjugate (ADC) class, delivering toxic chemicals directly to tumors, has garnered attention following Pfizer’s acquisition of ADC expert Seagen.

ImmunoGen’s stock reflects this rising interest, having broken out of a cup base with a buy point at 20.69 on November 30, further buoyed by AbbVie’s acquisition announcement.

The stock maintains a perfect Relative Strength Rating of 99 and a Composite Rating of 97, securing its place on the Tech Leader list.

Also Read: 5 Robotic Stocks to keep an eye on in 2024

5. Harpoon Therapeutics (HARP)

Harpoon Therapeutics focuses on developing immuno-oncology drugs, which harness the immune system’s ability to combat cancer cells.

The company’s recent highlight is Merck’s (MRK) agreement to acquire it for $680 million, a significant endorsement of its potential.

Harpoon is collaborating with Roche (RHHBY) on a drug for small cell lung cancer and neuroendocrine prostate cancer, alongside other neuroendocrine tumors.

Credit: DepositPhotos

The company also independently advances treatments for multiple myeloma and solid tumors, with four more drugs in laboratory testing for various undisclosed cancers.

While Harpoon is yet to commercialize a product and continues to report losses typical of pre-commercial biotech firms, its stock has experienced a remarkable surge.

Rising from dollar-stock status, it peaked at 15.19 on November 22 and soared further on the news of the Merck acquisition.

With a perfect Relative Strength Rating of 99 and a Composite Rating of 78, Harpoon’s stock performance is a testament to its potential in the biotech sector.

The Biotech Sector’s Bright Prospects

These five biotech stocks, each with their unique strengths and potentials, offer a glimpse into the vibrant and rapidly evolving biotech sector.

Investors looking for opportunities in this sector should consider these stocks, keeping the inherent risks and the volatility associated with biotech investments in mind.

The future seems promising for these companies as they continue to innovate and lead in their respective areas, making them worthy of attention in the investment world.

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