It's official: In a historic vote, Britain has decided to leave the European Union.
Financial markets around the world are not taking the news well. Stateside, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped more than 400 points, and the S&P 500 Index is down more by than 2.3% in early trading.
High-beta growth stocks like those in the biotechnology sector are getting hit even harder. The iShares Biotechnology Nasdaq ETF (NASDAQ:IBB) is already down over 3%, which is a sizable move when added to the huge hit that this ETF has taken year to date.
When stock markets everywhere fall, it can create bargains galore for investors who are willing to invest against the grain. With that in mind here is a list of three high-quality biotechnology stocks that I think are good buying candidates in the wake of the Brexit vote.
1. Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:VRTX)
The worldwide leader in Cystic Fibrosis treatments is having a rough year. Shares have fallen right along with the rest of the biotechnology sector, currently down more than 35% in 2016. That's providing investors with a great entry price into a company that is primed to have a transformative year.
The reason is that the company's newest CF drug, Orkambi, is off to a rip-roaring start. Sales of this hit drug came in at $223 million last quarter, which was almost enough to push the company into the black for the quarter. Given that management expects to sell more than $1 billion worth of Orkambi this year, the company's odds of achieving full-year profitability look quite strong.
That's especially true since Orkmabi is now available for sale in both Canada and Australia, which add a combined 2,500 patients to the addressable market. Another 2,400 patients in the U.S. could also get access to the drug if the FDA approves the company's label expansion claim that it filed for earlier this year. A PDUFA date of Sept. 30, 2016, was given, so investors won't have to wait long for an answer.
Adding less than 5,000 patients to the company's addressable market might not sound like a big deal, but it is. Orkambi is an extremely expensive drug, so every new patient goes a long way toward moving the company's top line. Consider this: In the fourth quarter of 2015 Orkambi generated $220 million in the U.S. by treating only 4,500 patients. That's an annual run rate of $880 million, so gaining access to 5,000 more patients could be a game changer for the company.
Vertex isn't resting on its laurels, either. The company's next-generation CF drug VX-661 is currently in phase 3 trials for use as a combination therapy with its first CF medicine, Kalydeco.
Right now analysts believe the company will produce a profit of more than $1 per share this year, which should skyrocket to about $3.42 by 2017. Today's share price in the mid-$80s suggest a forward P/E ratio of about 24, which I think is a fair price to pay for a business that is poised for rapid growth over the next few years.
2. Coherus BioSciences (NASDAQ:CHRS)
(NASDAQ:CHRS)The biotech industry is constantly reinventing itself, but one of the biggest disruptions over the last few years has been the introduction of biosimilar drugs to the U.S. markets. Biosimilar drugs are copycat versions of biologic drugs, which had not faced any generic competition before. Until recently, that edge kept sales of many billion-dollar biologics growing for years after they lost patent protection.
That's no longer the case. Last year, the FDA gave the green light to the first biosimilar drug, and that opened the flood gates for more generics.
One small-cap company that is looking to cash in on the trend is Coherus BioSciences, which specializes in creating biosimilars and has a number of intriguing product candidates that could be on the market soon.
Coherus has announced its intentions to have three of its biosimilar product candidates in regulators' hands by year-end. These include CHS-1701, a biosimilar version of Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) white blood cell boosting drug Neulasta. Sales of Neulasta eclipsed $4.5 billion in 2015, so even if Coherus only steals a portion of the market away from Amgen, that could be enough to turn the company profitable. Add in the current worldwide sales of its two other later-stage biosimilar candidates, and the company's addressable market is in excess of $25 billion.
That alone is a massive opportunity, but the numbers get even bigger when you add in the potential of Coherus' phase 1 product candidates. These include biosimilar versions of hit chemotherapy drug Avastin and the wet age-related macular degeneration drug Lucentis, each of which currently pulls in billions in annual sales.
Coherus is also well financed right now. The company had more than $179 million in cash as of March 31, and it just raised another $72 million or so from a common-share offering. That gives it plenty of capital to advance its candidates along the regulatory path. Add it all up, and this could be a great time to consider adding a few shares of Coherus to your portfolio.
3. Radius Health (NASDAQ:RDUS)
It is estimated that over 2 million osteoporosis-related bone fractures occur each year in the U.S., which is a big problem that Radius Health is trying to fix.
The company's lead product compound is called abaloparatide, and in late-stage clinical trials patients who used this drug daily demonstrated an 86% reduction in their risk of developing a spine fracture compared to patients who only used a placebo. That's a huge gain, and it's clinically superior to Amgen's romosozumab, another experimental osteoporosis compound. If abaloparatide finds it way to market, then it could help keep millions of those patients out of the E.R. each year, saving the healthcare system a lot of money. No wonder analyst believe that it could produce more than $1 billion in peak sales.
The only wrinkle that investors need to be aware of is that Radius Health's abaloparatide requires a daily injection, while Amgen's experimental drug romosozumab only has to be taken once per month. If both drugs win approval, then I believe providers will side with the drug that offers superior patient outcomes, but we won't know for sure until both of these drugs are approved.
Radius isn't sitting still, though. The company is already developing a new version of abaloparatide that skips the injections altogether and is administered through a transdermal patch. It's still in early clinical stages, but this is innovative solution could prove valuable if providers balk at the idea of a daily injection.
Radius Health has already submitted abaloparatide for regulatory review in both the U.S. and EU, so it's a waiting game at this point. Radius Health's balance sheet is packed with more than $439 million in cash, so it's financially sound. If regulators give the drug the green light, then it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Radius Health's stock shoot higher, so I think this is a solid clinical-stage company for investors to take a look at right now.