Biotech Investing: Top Performing Biotech Companies

July 31, 2008

If you read my primer yesterday on biotechnology investing you found out the basics of what comprises biotech and probably thought, “That’s great, but where do I put my money?” I’ll tailor this to those investors who aren’t independently wealthy or otherwise come to investing with a lot of capital. Those investors can’t afford to fail. Obviously, no one wants to lose money, but there’s a certain caliber of investor who’s more risk-averse than others, and because biotech investment is a particularly risky sort of investment, it can be a difficult prospect for a lower-roller investor.

Let’s take a look at the top biotech investments out there: good places to start if you’re an investor who’s a little gun shy. For every hot investment in biotech, there are countless poor-performers, so these stocks are a good way to get your feet wet. One thing to mention is that biotech is a pretty narrow field for investment. In no form of investment is “buzz” so important. At any one time only a few companies are performing or overperforming, so you’ve got to be extra careful.

Medical Biotech

Pharmaceutical biotech investing is the most stable of all the biotech fields, so this is where you should start. Though Genentech had some negative press recently which investors feared would send the stock tanking, it remained stable. Generally, Genentech is considered the standard-bearer for medical biotech investing, and the projections for the second quarter are healthy.

In pharmaceutical investing, cancer treatment is a big avenue for investment. However, there are some biotech companies, such as Northfield Laboratories, that focus on one type of therapy. Though this could be lucrative, you should be looking at a biotech firm that has a diversification in the medical field – as not all therapies take off and some can even be met with lawsuits. So not only should your own investments be diversified, the investments themselves should be diverse.

Genentech is a diverse company, and with the pickup of cancer drug Avastin, it is expanding at a healthy clip. Avastin is set to take in 0ver $660 million in sales. As mentioned, not all pharmaceuticals pay out to such a degree, so Genentech does have its share of underperformers, but this is balanced by the success of other drugs and new acquisitions.

Another solid investment is Biogen Idec, which had first-quarter earnings that exceeded expectations. Another pharma stock, Biogen is selling a lot of pharmaceuticals. Partly the profits are due to prices going up, but not entirely – this is true across the board for the big pharma biotech corporations. In a fairly unstable investment sector, you can feel confident that people are always going to want to find ways to stay healthy and new advancements in the industry are guaranteed.

Rounding out the top performers: Genzyme, aka Isis Pharmaceuticals, and Cephalon. Amgen has recently fallen on some harder times, as has Gilead Sciences.

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Henry is a financial writer living in Los Angeles. He's written about most any financial topic under the sun. He also writes some fiction, but rarely about the world of finance. Go figure. He's also been known to write a song or two - but he doesn't write songs about personal finance either. There aren't too many catchy songs about the stock market. Though maybe it's a niche market worth exploring...

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