With the market dropping by more than 17% so far this year and the industry-tracking SPDR S&P Biotech ETF down by a brutal 27%, it's safe to say that conditions are looking quite bearish at the moment. Thanks to the Federal Reserve's mission to control inflation by hiking interest rates, investor sentiment for companies that might need to borrow money is incredibly poor -- and that makes biotech stocks an even riskier investment than usual.
But not every biotech is struggling, and some are actually flourishing despite the market's disfavor. In particular, here are two businesses defiantly outperforming the market as a result of their recent successes and expected future performance. If you can stomach the risk, either might make for a good investment. Here's why.
1. Axsome Therapeutics
Axsome Therapeutics (AXSM 1.11%) is up by more than 127% in the last 12 months, and there might be another growth spurt in the works. This year, it went from having zero products on the market to having two: Sunosi for narcolepsy and Auvelity for major depressive disorder (MDD).
Whereas it bought Sunosi from Jazz Phamaceuticals earlier this year, leading to sales of $8.8 million between May and the end of June, it just scored regulatory approval for Auvelity on Aug. 19, and it'll be launching the drug sometime in the fourth quarter. That means the early part of next year should see it realize more revenue than ever before, which will help it to keep crushing the bear market.
Management thinks that both of its new medicines could have the potential to be blockbusters, meaning that they might each bring in more than $1 billion in annual revenue. It'll likely take a few years for sales of the pair to ramp up to reach that level. And by the time they do, Axsome could easily have other programs ready for commercialization to keep its successful streak alive. It has five candidates in late-stage clinical trials, and it could submit approval applications for another narcolepsy project and a fibromyalgia project as early as next year.
At the moment, Axsome's upcoming revenue makes it a bit less risky than most biotech stocks. It's possible that its sales might underperform relative to expectations, but it's no longer at as high a risk of running out of money to fund development. Plus, unexpected setbacks in clinical trials tend to sting shareholders a bit less when the company has a drug on the market to anchor its value, and having two on the market like Axsome is doubtlessly better than one.
2. Corcept Therapeutics
With its shares gaining over 18% since September of last year, Corcept Therapeutics (CORT 2.19%) isn't as much of a rocketship stock as Axsome, but it's still having no trouble beating the bearish environment.
It currently has one product on the market called Korlym, which treats Cushing's syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder that affects around 20,000 people in the U.S. It's profitable, and management expects that sales of Korlym will total between $400 million and $430 million this year, which is significantly more than the $365.9 million it earned in 2021. And growth like that is why its shares are rising while almost everything else in the market is falling.
A phase 3 trial is testing Korlym's efficacy in a sub-population of people with Cushing's syndrome. It's expected to go before regulators sometime in the second half of next year. And Corcept is currently investigating in another phase 3 trial whether Korlym could be useful to treat ovarian cancer in conjunction with another drug. It's also working on testing the medicine in a couple of earlier-stage oncology programs. Competing in oncology will give it the chance to access larger patient populations and therefore larger markets, and that'll be a boon for its stock.
Like Axsome, this biotech isn't as risky as other stocks in its industry due to its product on the market. And it's even less risky as a result of its profitability, its barely-there debt load of only $2.2 million, and its substantial hoard of more than $370 million in cash. So if you're looking for an average-risk pick that'll keep growing throughout the bear market, this might well be it.