Exelixis (Nasdaq: EXEL) shares are down more than 50% so far this year. Shares took a hit when Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) terminated its partnership with Exelixis on the cancer drug XL184 -- not a good sign for a product in phase 3 of development. To make things worse, longtime CEO George Scangos just left the company to become CEO of Biogen Idec (Nasdaq: BIIB). On the bright side, Exelixis has a pipeline of 19 compounds (including XL184) in various stages of development, and, at current share prices, investors could be buying this pipeline at a discount. Twelve of those compounds are partnered, including four others with Bristol-Myers. In the high-risk / high-reward world of biotech investing, Exelixis has many shots on goal, lowering the risk of being heavily dependent on just one or two potential drugs. And that's about as good as it gets.

Is now the time for you to invest in Exelixis, or are there other biotech companies that are in a better position to put more money in your pocket? We asked our Motley Fool CAPS community to nominate biotech peers that may present even better opportunities than Exelixis.

And the nominees are
Our 165,000-plus-member CAPS community views Anthera Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ANTH) as a better opportunity among similarly sized biotech companies. Anthera's pipeline is focused on products to treat cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Anthera is a five-star stock (the highest rating given by our CAPS community), while Exelixis currently stands as a four-star stock. Like Exelixis, its share price has declined, down as much as 38% over the past month, but CAPS All-Star member zzlangerhans views Anthera as attractive at its current depressed level, but not necessarily more attractive than beaten-up Exelixis:

Over the last month Anthera stock has decided to take a steep plunge, down to nearly half the steady-state price they enjoyed for months after their weak IPO in March of this year. I saw Anthera at 7 as fairly valued, given the absence of late-stage data and the uncertainty in the market, and put it down on my list of companies to re-evaluate if the share price sagged. And sag it did. I reviewed the progress since March and didn't find anything to justify the steep decline. ... Basically [Anthera] is diving in value without a clear precipitant, and could become an attractive investment at an even lower price (less than ~$4 per share). But in the current market, it will have to drop pretty low to compete with hugely depressed stocks like Idera, Exelixis, and Myriad Genetics (Nasdaq: MYGN).

The CAPS community agrees with zzlangerhans about Myriad Genetics and rates it a four-star stock. Myriad has developed personalized genetic testing solutions. The stock is down about 35% over the past three months because of a legal setback involving its tests and disappointing earnings reported in early May. In addition, concerns that growth rates for expensive genetic testing may be weaker than analysts have previously forecast are not helping. Still, Myriad holds an attractive patent portfolio and is well-positioned in the promising genetic diagnostics market.

Several CAPS members point out the strong growth and balance sheet, as well as a lack of major competition. Plus, if they win the appeal on the patent issue, today's price could turn out to be a steal.

Make your vote count!
OK, we've profiled three beaten-down biotech companies that may provide more reward than risk at current levels. Do you agree that Exelixis, Anthera, and Myriad are good opportunities for biotech investors? Click over to CAPS and let the rest of the community know what you think.

John Keeling doesn't own shares of any company mentioned. Exelixis is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers choice and the Fool owns shares. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.