Biotech stocks are soaring in 2013 as major innovations in healthcare have offered enormous breakthroughs on once-untreatable diseases and conditions.
But for years, it was tricky to invest in some of today's best biotech companies given their volatility and uncertainty in the industry. For the better part of five years, some of today's leading biotech stocks remained essentially flat.
For some time, it was best to stick to large-scale pharmaceutical companies with a strong yield and avoid mass speculation in hit-or-miss penny stocks.
Well, not any more. Shares of the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (ETF) (NASDAQ:IBB) - which tracks industry returns - are up a staggering 42% since the beginning of the year, and the health/biotech industry has the highest returns of any sector for the year.
And you haven't seen anything yet...
With one of the most exciting biotech companies now joining the NYSE and another setting its focus on an uplisting, we're seeing major changes in the biotech industry and investment. And there are companies poised to become the best biotech stocks you can find right now.
Double Your Money in No Time Flat
If you're looking to double your money, the biotech sector is one of the best hunting grounds that you'll find.
So far this year, for instance, the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (NASDAQ: IBB) - an ETF that's a great proxy for the sector - has zoomed 28.2%, more than double the 13.59% SPDR S&P 500 Index ETF (NYSEArca: SPY). The IBB gained 31% last year.
And a lot of individual biotech stocks have actually doubled, tripled or more - the Holy-Grail type of gains that high-tech investors crave.
But there's a problem.
You see, not all biotech stocks are created equal.
Why This Stock (and Sector) Will Trounce All Others
Forget gold, forget oil, and forget the S&P 500.
If you want to make big money in the market today you have to look to biotech.
In fact, if you ignore this field, you're going to miss some of the market's biggest stock gains.
That's because what happened earlier this week is going to become the norm.
On Monday, of the top 25 Nasdaq advancing stocks, 12 were straight-up biotech plays and another was a small-cap healthcare concern.
Their one-day gains ranged from 8% to 47%. Not bad for a day's trade.
This Biotech Patent Leader Generates an 8.3% Dividend Yield
I was a hard-working journalist in the early 1990s - and the whole Human Genome effort was transforming biotechnology into front-page news - when the Oakland Tribune offered me a job as a financial writer.
When the editor explained that biotechnology would be one of my "beats" ... well, I jumped at the chance.
It was one of the best career decisions I ever made.
Biotech was an exciting beat to work ... and that was an exciting time to work it. So I immersed myself in my assignments. And that meant that I talked at length with patients, company executives, industry analysts, financiers, top researchers, and senior officials at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the federal agency that approves all new drugs sold in the United States.
A five-part series that I produced about a pioneering therapy for multiple sclerosis generated a lot of accolades and was one of my favorite achievements from the four years I spent on the biotech beat.
But the real benefit was in the insights that I gained, and the lessons I learned.
They've paid off for me in a big way through the years.
And now they're going to pay off for you.
Medical Miracle: Biotech Duo Is "Printing" New Organs
Imagine a future in which anyone needing a transplant could just create the needed tissue on their home printer.
That day hasn't arrived yet ... but it's getting closer all the time.
A partnership between a global software firm and an early-stage biotech player is already promising to transform the field of medical transplants.
And for many patients, that day can't get here soon enough.
Why the Pentagon Wants to Use This Penny Stock to Cure the Flu
A tiny clinical-stage biotech firm is pioneering a ground-breaking new way to fight the flu.
Their process is so radical it has caught the eye of DARPA , the shadowy research and development arm of the Pentagon.
What makes their process so unique is that the company uses tobacco plants instead of eggs to produce the recombinant proteins that are the key to vaccines.
Its goal is to dramatically cut the time it takes to manufacture vaccines, which can take as long as nine months to put into production.
In fact, in a key test of the firm's technology DARPA recently ordered 10 million doses of a vaccine candidate as part of a $21 million project.
By all accounts they came through with flying colors, delivering 10 million doses of the H1N1 influenza vaccine in just one month.
So who is this ground-breaking new vaccine company?
It's a tiny Canadian-based firm called Medicago Inc. (OTC:MDCGF; TSX:MDG).
Meet the Biotech CEO With a $30 Billion Breakthrough
Don't worry if you never heard of Dr. J. Joseph Kim. Most investors haven't-at least not yet.
He's the CEO of an early-stage biotech firm that has developed a truly novel product for one of the nation's major medical markets -- vaccines.
It's a $30 billion a year business in just the U.S. alone.
The problem is that the vaccine technology we use today to prevent diseases like the flu, chicken pox and polio is hopelessly outdated because it still relies on the delivery of a portion of the actual virus to develop immunity.
Not only that, but some of these agents are still grown in chicken eggs like they were back in the 1930s.
And while they are still relatively safe, the vaccines themselves or their additives can still make people sick.
But what if you could develop a whole new class of vaccines that were actually safe using a synthetic DNA?
Better yet, what if you could vaccinate yourself against HIV, cervical cancer, leukemia, and hepatitis?
The payoff would be tremendous.
Now you know why I was so anxious to meet with Kim, the founder and CEO of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE:INO) last week.
The Next Profit Breakthrough: Synthetic Biology
Drug, chemical, and biofuel firms are relying more than ever on artificial fragments of DNA to invent new products. It's called synthetic biology.
For example, teams all over the world are now in their labs looking to create novel biotech compounds or drugs by inserting synthetic DNA into cells, either living or artificial. They're also growing new microorganisms that yield biofuels to be used in lieu of oil.
Trouble is, the process is so complex that it can take days to synthesize these man-made genes, usually in small batches.
Not only is it time consuming, but it requires the use of costly robots and other advanced gear. Simply stated, if someone came along with a breakthrough that greatly speeded up the development of synthetic genes, it could affect several industries at once, not to mention its own value in the market.
Allow me to introduce you to Gen9 Inc. The company is blazing a trail in the development of scalable technologies for synthesizing genes.
Now, Gen9 is a small, new dynamic company. And its potential is huge.
It was formed last summer around a unique new device that greatly speeds up the process of creating synthetic DNA.
Even better, it cuts the cost of that process by leaps and bounds.
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Letting Biotech Companies "Patent Nature" Could Be a Huge Boon for Investors
The U.S. Supreme Court has just agreed to hear a landmark case that could have extreme money-making ramifications for biotech companies.
Next June, the nine justices are expected to settle - once and for all - whether companies can patent human genes in the United States.
The Patent and Trademark Office has been issuing patents on DNA for nearly 30 years, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Roughly 4,000 of the 22,000 human genes now have some form of patent.
But the American Civil Liberties Union has challenged the practice in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics. Now that case will go to the highest court in the country.
At heart, the legal question sounds simple: Does Myriad Genetics Inc. (NasdaqGS:MYGN) have the right to patent two genes that signal whether a woman is at higher risk of getting cancer of the breasts or ovaries?
Myriad of course did not invent or create the breast cancer predisposition genes, referred to as BRCA genes.
But it did create something called the BRACAnalysis test that looks for mutations on these genes. Those mutations are associated with much greater risks of breast and ovarian cancer.
Usually firms cannot get that kind of market protection for something that is clearly a product of nature. But in this case, Myriad has developed a process of extracting a gene that makes the resulting molecule novel and chemically different from DNA that naturally occurs in our bodies.
And, after all, it took Myriad 17 years and $500 million to develop the test. Without barriers to entry, other firms could simply come in, take advantage of all that costly effort and sell a knockoff for less money.
Even if that weren't illegal, it's obviously unfair.
Let's dig into the case and why it matters to you...
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