This year will go down in the record books as one of the best ever for health-care stocks. And the year isn't ending on a disappointing note. Several health-care stocks experienced huge gains during the short holiday week. Here are the three biggest winners.
Provectus Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQOTH:PVCT) stands out as the top health-care stock on our list. Shares skyrocketed 45% on momentum from an important "type C" meeting held with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week.
On Dec. 18, Provectus announced that it had met two days earlier with the FDA about a pathway to approval for the company's melanoma drug PV-10. There really wasn't much that the company could share about the meeting, but the news was enough to excite investors.
Provectus is gearing up for a phase 3 pivotal trial of PV-10 in treating melanoma, which received orphan drug designation from the FDA in 2011. An early stage trial of the drug in treating breast cancer has also been completed with another under way targeting liver cancer.
There wasn't much in the form of news this week for Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO), but that didn't matter. Shares soared nearly 32% anyway.
Great expectations explain much of Inovio's rapid ascent of late. Institutional investors have scooped up big stakes in the clinical-stage vaccine developer this year. Inovio's synthetic DNA vaccines, particularly one targeting cervical dysplasia, continue to generate huge interest.
All of these expectations helped propel Inovio to near the top of the rankings for stock performance in 2013. With the past week's gains, Inovio's shares are up a whopping 494% year to date.
Good news frontward and backward
United Therapeutics (NASDAQ:UTHR) lands the third spot on our humongous list, with shares jumping 29% for the week. FDA approval of pulmonary arterial hypertension, or PAH, drug Orenitram served as the catalyst.
This latest approval garnered United Therapeutics its fifth for a PAH treatment. The company counts three products already on the market: Remodulin, Tyvaso, and Adcirca.
Orenitram claims a unique difference from United Therapeutics' prior drugs, though. It's named after the company's founder, Martine Rothblatt. In case you don't spot the connection, Orenitram is "Martine Ro" spelled backwards.
FDA approval of Orenitram also meant good news for Supernus Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:SUPN). Supernus developed technology used in the drug. The company stands to gain milestone and royalty payments from United Therapeutics.
Which of this week's three top stocks should investors watch closely? The easy answer is all of them.
Investors will find out more from Provectus in mid-January, after the FDA releases meeting minutes from the PV-10 discussion. Inovio has several presentations in the first quarter that could serve as additional catalysts for the stock. And United Therapeutics will now have yet another PAH drug to generate revenue. Investors might want to keep their eyes on all of these stocks into 2014.
Fool contributor Keith Speights and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.