It’s been a big year for biotech. Heck, it’s been a big year for most of the health care sector, but biotech’s been among the biggest gainers across the entire market, with the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index ETF ($IBB) up almost 65 percent and SPDR S&P Biotech ETF ($XBI) up almost 50 percent since the start of the year. Some of this can be attributed to the rising tide that has been the entire equities market in 2013, but the solid market appears to have led investors to be willing to add more risk to their profile and speculate on promising biotech plays.
But who’s benefitted the most? Here are the five biotech stocks that have made the biggest gains so far in 2013.
1. ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (ACAD)
Market Cap: $2.27 billion
YTD Gains: 437.63 percent
ACADIA’s massive rise this year can be attributed to pimavanserin, the company’s potential treatment for psychosis associated with Parkinson’s Disease. A small-cap biotech company with massive returns because of a single, potentially lucrative but as-of-yet unapproved drug in its pipeline? Shocking. ACADIA is focused on small-molecule drugs that treat unmet medical needs, but it has no approved products and pimavanserin is its most-advanced late stage treatment.
2. Insys Therapeutics (INSY)
Market Cap: $976.36 million
YTD Gains: 486.32 percent
Insys is a biotech company with…profits? Wait, that CAN’T be right, can it? Oh, but it is. Bucking the trend for its segment, Insys has a very real, very approved, and very selling-in-the-market-as-we-speak product. Subsys is a single-use spray that delivers the pain-reliever fentanyl to cancer patients. Sales rose from $9.7 million in its first quarter of release to $18.5 million in its second quarter. That’s a 90 percent jump for those keeping score, and helped swing the company into the black, with EPS reaching $0.51 in its most-recent earnings report.
3. Arrowhead Research (ARWR)
Market Cap: $32713 million
YTD Gains: 321.03 percent
More than quadrupling the value of your stock is pretty impressive, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that shares were off 5.14 percent through the first six months of the year. Arrowhead’s monster 2013 didn’t even really start cooking until the Phase-I clinical trial for ARC-520, Arrowhead’s treatment for chronic Hepatitis-B virus infection, kicked off in early July.
4. Celldex Therapeutics (CLDX)
Market Cap: $2.2 billion
YTD Gains: 305.07 percent
Celldex has many investors salivating because of the upside associated with its cancer treatment, CDX-1127. Positive sentiment regarding the stock drove prices to a 52-week high of $38.84 a share on Oct. 1. However, the fact that CDX-1127 has yet to report its Phase-I trial data appears to brought shares back to the earth as they’ve lost nearly a third of their value from their peak to $27.18 a share by market close on Monday. However, anyone who bought shares on January 1 of this year has more than quadrupled their investment to this point, so it’s probably a little silly to split hairs at this point.
5. Clovis Oncology (CLVS)
Market Cap: $1.9 billion
YTD Gains: 293.69 percent
Clovis nearly doubled in value in early June after the Phase I results for its cancer drug rucaparib came back much better than expected. The drug, used in treatment of ovarian cancer, showed clinical benefits for 89 percent of its users.