Biotechnology investors often have to make bets based more on promise than profit. That's because it takes years and hundreds of millions of dollars to advance new medicine through clinical trials to market, so investing in biotech stocks is more of a gamble than investing in other industries. Having said that, there are a number of biotech stocks that make money and that are expected to see their earnings jump in the coming year, including these three that caught my eye.
1. NPS Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: NPSP) is an intriguing company because it has one fast growing drug, one drug with an FDA decision approaching quickly, and a royalty revenue stream that kicks off nine figures annually.
The company's fast-growing drug is Gattex, a treatment that won FDA approval in 2012 for use as a treatment for short bowel syndrome, or SBS. Sales of Gattex reached $22 million in the second quarter, up from less than $5 million the year before, prompting NPS to guide for full year product sales of $100 million-$110 million this year, up 200% from 2013.
The company hopes that the FDA will approve its second drug, Natpara, this week. The FDA decision is slated for Oct. 24, and if the agency follows the recommendation of its advisory panel, Natpara will get a go-ahead for use as a treatment for hypoparathyroidism.
Regardless of the FDA's decision, NPS also has a solid royalty stream that's earned it $60 million through the first six months of this year, including $55 million paid to it by Amgen (AMGN 0.93%) for Sensipar, which was approved in 2004 for hypoparathyroidism. Thanks to sales of Gattex and royalties, NPS Pharma is slated to produce EPS of $0.02 this year and $1.15 next year. If it can deliver on that EPS growth, investors may find that shares head higher.
2. ANI Pharmaceuticals (ANIP 6.29%) doesn't have a lot of revenue, but it delivers a good portion of it to the bottom line. The company expects sales of between $28 million and $30 million this year to result in EPS of between $0.90 and $1.00.
ANI Pharma's second-quarter sales advanced 8% year over year, but thanks to acquisitions last year sales for its first six months have jumped 50% to $17.5 million. The company also acquired a portfolio of 31 abbreviated new drug applications from Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA 4.92%) and hopes to launch its first product from that purchase by year end.
ANI Pharma's improved profitability stems from a price increase earlier this year for its top-selling medicine Esterified Estrogen with Methyltestosterone, which decreased the company's cost of sales to 27% in the first half of 2014 from 39% last year.
Overall, ANI Pharma is in the midst of a plan to bulk up sales with bolt-on acquisitions and through new generic drug launches, but it's a tiny company that may struggle to carve out its niche. Regardless, with no debt on the books and expected EPS of $1.87 next year, investors may find ANI Pharma shares are a risk worth exploring.
3. Insys Therapeutics (INSY) gets most of its sales from Subsys, an under-the-tongue spray formulation of the opiate drug fentanyl. Since launching Subsys in 2012, sales have marched steadily higher, allowing Insys to capture more than a 30% share of the fentanyl market for treating breakthrough cancer pain. In the second quarter, Subsys sales totaled $54 million, up 195% year over year, allowing Insys to fund an expanding R&D pipeline and grow its cash on hand by $18 million to $75 million.
Insys hopes to resubmit its filing for approval of its oral formulation of marinol soon, and if that drug wins over regulators, it could significantly boost sales. Insys is also funding research for a slate of studies designed to evaluate medical marijuana cannibinoid CBD's use in two forms of epilepsy and in brain cancer. Overall, analysts think that Insys can earn $1.08 per share this year and $1.66 next year, which gives Insys a reasonable forward P/E ratio of 23.