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3 Biotech Stocks to Buy in January

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Are you looking to put money to work in the biotech sector? Here are three stocks our contributors like right now.

Image source: TBIT via Pixabay.

Biotech stocks are off to a rough start in 2016. Several of the most popular exchange-traded funds that focus on the industry have been sold off since the start of the year, with one down by more than 8% in only the first few days of trading!

When an entire industry is taken down, it can be a great time to go bargain hunting in the sector, so we asked our team of Motley Fool contributors to share a biotech stock that they think is a great buy right now. Read on to see which stocks they singled out.  

Brian Feroldi: Its rare to find a biotech stock that is both profitable and trading at a compelling valuation, but I think we see that happening right now with Medivation (MDVN). This biotech is focused on treating cancer, and right now could be a great time to pick up shares.

Medivation's financial statements are in lovely shape thanks to Xtandi, its (and Astellas') treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Xtandi has been clinically shown to help patients delay the need to start chemotherapy by an extra 17 months, and it also lengthened patient survival by four months and meaningfully reduced the risk of death from the disease.

With those clinical results in hand, more and more providers are prescribing the drug, and sales continue to grow by leaps and bounds. In the most recent quarter, sales were up 73% in the U.S. and 116% in the rest of the world, and since prostate cancer is the second-most diagnosed cancer, Xtandi appears to still have a long runway of growth ahead of it.

And yet, despite all of Xtandi's clinical benefits and Medivation's stellar financials, shares of Medivation can be purchased for about 23 times its 2016 earnings estimates. Thats a bargain price for this high-quality company, which is why I think Medivation is a great stock to consider buying this month.

Keith Speights: If you're on the prowl for a speculative biotech play that has huge potential, take a look at Idera Pharmaceuticals (IDRA -1.37%). In December, Idera announced positive results from a phase 1/2 clinical trial for experimental drug IMO-8400 targeting treatment of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia (WM), a rare type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That news sent Idera's stock soaring, but share prices have given up all of those gains in the subsequent weeks.

Idera could benefit from several possible catalysts in 2016. More results from the clinical trial of IMO-8400 focusing on WM are expected later in the year. Another clinical study of the drug as a potential treatment of diffuse large B cell lymphoma is scheduled to finish in June. Idera also anticipates announcing results in 2016 from a phase 1/2 trial of TLR agonist IMO-2125 in combination with ipilimumab (that name just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?).

Keep in mind that there are plenty of risks with Idera. Any or all of these clinical trials could prove to be disappointing. With a little luck, though, scooping up some shares of this biotech now might pay off in a big way over the next 12 months.

Cheryl Swanson: With some major drugmakers still reeling from fears that Washington will act to curb dramatic price hikes that pad their profits, it may seem nuts to buy into a small biotech that has yet to put one drug on the market. Still, I recently took the plunge with clinical-stage biotech FibroGen (FGEN -0.76%). The company features not only potentially huge upside potential, but it sports less risk than one might expect. 

FibroGen's foreseeable future looks reasonably well-funded thanks to AstraZeneca committing as much as $1.6 billion to partner on its novel anemia pill, roxadustat. The drug should be submitted for approval in China this year and in the U.S. in 2018.  But the big upside for this stock comes from another drug -- a promising lung treatment to which it retains full rights.  FG-3019 is currently in Phase 2 trials for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), pancreatic cancer, and liver fibrosis. Assuming all goes as planned, that means a multibillion-dollar blockbuster, with Decision Resources estimating the market just for IPF drugs at $4.6 billion by 2020. 

Thus far, FG-3019 has been shown to be the only IPF drug with potential to actively reverse the disease. With a well-funded oral pill for anemia, and the chance at having the best-in-class drug for a deadly lung disease (assuming the data continues to be encouraging), this company has some powerful potential catalysts over the next 12 to 24 months. 

Brian Feroldi has no position in any stocks mentioned. Cheryl Swanson has no position in any stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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.

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Stocks Mentioned

Medivation, Inc. Stock Quote
Medivation, Inc.
Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$0.43 (-1.37%) $0.01
FibroGen, Inc. Stock Quote
FibroGen, Inc.
$14.33 (-0.76%) $0.11

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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