For high-growth-stock investors, the last few weeks haven’t exactly been that great. For whatever the reason — the trade war, Federal Reserve or general market malaise — investors have turned on a variety high-momentum shares. That includes a hefty dose of biotech stocks.
The rout in biotech stocks has been pretty severe. The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NYSEARCA:IBB) — the broad sector benchmark — is down roughly 5% in October.
But for longer-term investors, that dip could provide a great entry point to scoop up shares of some beaten-down biotech stocks. The long-term picture is still rosy for healthcare spending and the need to cure rare and hard-to-treat diseases. With major catalysts like gene editing, CAR-T and NASH driving future earnings and potential, the runway is long for biotech investors.
But these sorts of market giveaways don’t usually last long in the sector. That means the time to pounce on biotech shares could be now.
With that, here are five biotech stocks to buy today.
Ligand Pharmaceuticals (LGND)
Not many biotech stocks feature a robust pipeline, numerous partnerships and streams of revenue. So, when the market hands you a gift and the ability to buy shares for cheap, you need to jump on it. And that’s just the case with Ligand Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:LGND).
Ligand doesn’t actually develop drugs itself. What LGND stock does is provide development platforms that help other biotech stocks and pharmaceutical companies create drugs more effectively. That huge difference has allowed Ligand to quietly become one of the sector’s secret stars.
More than 95 different biotech and pharmaceutical firms have partnered with Ligand to develop new drugs and therapies. Those partners currently have five late-stage programs, 22 mid-stage programs, and 25 early-stage programs in its pipeline. That’s a staggering amount of pipeline potential. And that doesn’t include its 3 drugs already in marketing stages.
The beauty is that LGND collects royalty payments and bonuses as these drugs progress through trials and into marketing stages. The best part is much of the risk is pushed onto these partners. Often, Ligand still gets paid even if the drug doesn’t fully develop. Because of this, LGND managed to collect millions in revenues and build its cash and cash equivalents balance to nearly $1 billion.
The recent big dip in shares makes LGND stock one of the best biotech stocks in the sector today.
As we said, a pipeline is everything when it comes to biotech stocks. Luckily for clinical-stage firm Galapagos (NASDAQ:GLPG), its pipeline is very robust indeed.
GLPG has multiple late-stage programs as well as 25 different drugs in discovery/early trial stages. That alone is worth the price of admission given its recent price drop. But what is really is exciting is its highly selective JAK1 inhibitor — Filgotinib — as well as its Cystic fibrosis programs.
Partnering with giant Gilead (NASDAQ:GILD), GLPG’s Filgotinib is quickly becoming a monster and recently unveiled insanely impressive phase-3 data for rheumatoid arthritis. With that, GILD and GLPG have moved closer to marketing the drug for RA. With a better safety profile and injectability, the drug could significantly chip away at AbbVie’s (NASDAQ:ABBV) leading RA drug Humira. Ironically, ABBV pulled the plug on its partnership with GLPG for Filgotnib just before the results came out.
The second win for Galapagos comes from Cystic fibrosis. Right now, there aren’t many CF drugs available and they don’t all work for everyone. GLPG recently started enrolling initial trials for its CF program and results from these programs should start coming in over the next few months.
With these catalysts, Galapagos could be a great clinical-stage biotech to buy after the recent rout. GLPG stocks future still looks very rosy.
Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT)
I’ll admit it. I basically called the top in Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ICPT) at the end of September. The timing was bad and the stock has fallen about 15% in the biotech stock decline. But all that means is that investors have a chance to snag-up shares of this monster in the making.
As we said before, ICPT is targeting the biggest trend in biotech — Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis or NASH. The progressive liver disease can destroy the organ and is projected to become the leading cause of all liver transplants by 2020. It’s a big deal and Intercept’s Ocaliva is a big drug.
Ocaliva is used to treat a rare, chronic liver disease known as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). PBC and NASH are very similar. With that, ICPT has started to pivot the drug towards the disease. Promising early stage trials has allowed the biotech firm to start a large-scale Phase 3 study to evaluate the use of Ocaliva to treat NASH. This study should finish in early 2019.
It’s a massive catalyst for the stock and was one of the reasons for its hefty pace of increases this year. With the wind taken out of the sector, investors now have an opportunity to play its potential again. On its own, Ocaliva sales continue to grow — which provides a margin of safety for the biotech stock.
Celgene Corp (CELG)
It’s no secret that the last year or so hasn’t been kind to Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG). Last year at this time, CELG was hit hard by bad news. This included big missteps in clinical trials and poor guidance figures for the far-out future. CELG stock spent much of the early part of the year down in the dumps.
But things have started to go right for the biotech giant.
Thanks to label expansions, Celgene’s key drug Revlimid is being used to longer and slightly different indications. That’s helping boost revenue from the drug. Meanwhile, deals will help keep generic Revlimid off the market until 2022. At the same time, sales for Otezla are still expanding, while both cancer drugs — Pomalyst and Abraxane — net the firm about a billion in revenue each.
Backing up these now blockbuster drugs is CELG’s robust clinical pipeline. Numerous partnerships are starting to bear fruit in CAR-T and other therapies. And with its huge cash balance, Celgene has plenty of firepower to keep the trials and M&A buyouts coming.
With the latest biotech meltdown, investors have basically cast away any of the positive news again. We’re right back where we started about a year ago. That’s a great chance to snag one of the biotech stock kings on the cheap.
Shares of Exelixis (NASDAQ:EXEL) could be one of the biggest bargains around. Shares of the cancer developer are down more than 40% this year.
On one hand, it’s easy to see why EXEL has tanked. After surging more than 430% over the last two years, increased competition from other drug makers could impact sales for its kidney cancer drug, Cabometyx. And last quarter, Exelixis did see a slight dip in these sales.
However, that dip is just skin deep. Backing in royalty payments and marketing overseas via partnerships total revenues for the drug surged by triple-digits. The reality is, EXEL isn’t seeing the competition just yet. Moreover, some of its rivals are running tests to see if Cabometyx can be used in combination therapy. At the same time, EXEL features a robust cash profile and development pipeline. This includes other liver cancers and diseases. And Cabometyx is being looked at for later stage liver cancers as well.
Because of this, the recent rout could be an interesting buying opportunity for Exelixis shares. Most analyst price targets are more than 12% above its current value. A simple boost to revenues in its next quarterly report should get it shares to those targets.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt is long GLPG, ICPT, and LGND.