2020 is a wild year to be trading pharmaceutical stocks. With major companies scrambling to develop therapies and vaccines for the coronavirus and many competitors struggling against the economic toll of the pandemic, good bargains are hard to find. Nonetheless, Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB), Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) are all excellent options to purchase in the short term.

Two of these companies have spent the year working hard to address the pandemic, and their efforts have already borne fruit for shareholders. All three are profitable, and have a manageable debt load. Most of all, these three companies have powerful engines of innovation, and they'll be firing on all cylinders to grow over the next few years.

A pharmacist looks at a tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

Biogen's bad month places it at a discount

Earlier this month, Biogen advanced its experimental Alzheimer's drug aducanumab to an advisory panel of regulators at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Preliminary remarks from the agency were favorable, causing Biogen's stock to explode. But, when the regulatory panel issued its verdict, it stated that aducanumab still didn't have enough positive clinical trial data to justify moving forward. Biogen's stock plummeted by 31% as a result.

There are three reasons why this makes the stock worth a buy instead of a sell. First, the FDA panel's verdict is non-binding, so the agency could still approve Biogen's biologics license application in early 2021. Second, the panel left the door open to Biogen conducting additional clinical trials to address its qualms, so the company could still manage to get it approved with some additional investment if it fails next year. Finally, the market probably overreacted to the bad news -- after all, a 31% drop in one day seems like panic selling.

Aducanumab isn't the only program that Biogen submitted to the FDA for approval this year, and the company has a plethora of other late-stage pipeline projects that are approaching completion. Especially because of this last point, it might be prudent to grab Biogen shares while they're at a discount.

Regeneron gains steam with its coronavirus pipeline

With its repertoire of antibody therapies for COVID-19 in development, Regeneron is going to be one of the most important players in the long-term control of the pandemic. In October, the company petitioned the FDA for emergency use authorization of its antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 for high-risk patients with COVID-19. Previous clinical trials of REGN-COV2 found that it was effective at reducing viral load and patient hospitalizations, and that its risk profile was acceptable.

In the next few months, Regeneron will likely submit additional requests for other indications of REGN-COV2, such as for hospitalized patients. All of this is excellent news for shareholders, and the company's future revenue will benefit immensely if REGN-COV2 is approved for sale in the short term.

It's also important to recognize the company's highly successful lineup of other drugs, notably including its antibody Libtayo for metastatic cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Regeneron's revenue surged 32% year over year in the most recent quarter, and this growth may accelerate. If the company succeeds in getting expanded indications for Libtayo so that it can be used to treat non-small cell lung cancer and basal cell carcinoma, shareholders should be pleased by the revenue growth that follows.

Buying the stock right now will ensure that investors capture the potential earnings growth from the company's coronavirus products as well as the upcoming boost from the probable expansion of Libtayo. 

Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine victory will shore up its earnings

When the pharma giant Pfizer and its smaller collaborator BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) announced a few days ago that their coronavirus vaccine candidate appeared to be safe and highly effective, both stocks ratcheted upward. Soon, the company will release its in-depth results, and the world will get a closer look at the details. For now, it appears that the vaccine is more than 90% effective at preventing infection when it is dosed appropriately.

Investors should buy the stock now because there are several catalysts for growth in the near future. Pfizer's stock will likely get another bump upward when it releases the full data set regarding the vaccine's efficacy, which should calm the skeptics. More importantly, Pfizer could make billions of dollars in revenue over the next few years by selling its vaccine, assuming it obtains regulatory approval for sale.

Pfizer has made a convincing claim that it will be the first competitor to start penetrating the massive coronavirus vaccine market. That's enough of a reason to purchase this stock on its own.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.