The Top 5 Biotech Stocks of 2015 — Average Gains So Far Over 200%

March 23, 2015 by Jon C. Ogg

The multiyear run in major biotech stocks has not let up in 2015. Most of the large and mid-cap stocks in the industry are higher, but the smaller and lesser known names have also tracked them higher. In fact, several biotechs are up 200% or more so far in 2015.

24/7 Wall St. ran a screen for the top five biotech stocks of 2015. On average, the gain is above 200%. For a company to be included, it had to have a market cap of at least $50 million — and a preference was given to companies with even larger market caps than that. As you may have imagined, some of these biotech names may be relatively or completely unknown to many investors.

The top five biotech performers in a FINVIZ screen are CorMedix Inc. (NASDAQ: CRMD), Cellular Biomedicine Group Inc. (NASDAQ: CBMG), Recro Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: REPH), Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: ESPR) and Anthera Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ANTH). For reference, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ: IBB) was up almost 21% year-to-date, as of Friday’s close.

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Whether these gains suggest further upside is up to readers to decide. We have included a basic driving force behind the gain on each and the performance against recent trading, as well as added color if applicable.

CorMedix (Gain of 305%)

CorMedix has risen 305% in the year to date and now has a market cap of $187 million. The largest upswing for CorMedix was seen in early March, partially attributable to the company’s announcement of multiple strategic business updates, namely the retention of investment bank Evercore as a financial advisor. Otherwise, the company has steadily grown for the first quarter of 2015, with a slight jump in mid-February.

Shares of CorMedix recently traded at $7.75, in a 52-week trading range of $1.05 to $9.48. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $2.50.

Cellular Biomedicine (Gain of 247%)

Cellular Biomedicine is up 247% so far in 2015, and its market cap is $491 million. The biotechnical and medical technology investment bank, LifeTech Capital, initiated coverage of Cellular Biomedicine Group with a Strong Speculative Buy rating and a price target of $23.75, in early February. This call was quickly realized when shares eclipsed this level within only a week. However, a big driving force for this company is its cancer treatments and innovative use of stem cells.

Shares of Cellular Biomedicine were at $44.88. The stock has a consensus price target of $32.50 and a 52-week trading range of $4.51 to $49.00.

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Recro Pharma (Gain of 202%)

Up 202% so far in 2015, Recro Pharma has $66.7 million market cap. This biotech really kicked into gear in early March, when shares were around $3. The most recent driving force in the stock’s movement was that it is buying assets from Alkermes, including worldwide rights to IV/IM meloxicam, a proprietary, Phase 3-ready, long-acting COX-2 NSAID for moderate to severe acute pain. The deal included a contract manufacturing facility, royalty and formulation business in Gainesville, Ga.

Recro Pharma shares traded around $8.64, in a 52-week trading range of $2.36 to $8.90. The consensus analyst price target is $25.33.

Esperion Therapeutics (Gain of 178%)

Esperion Therapeutics has risen almost 178% so far in 2015, and it has a $2.3 billion market cap. The positive top-line results released in mid-March on ETC-1002-009 caused shares to jump almost 30% in just one trading session. The candidate is in Phase 2b clinical trials to treat patients with hypercholesterolemia, as well as to lower levels of LDL-cholesterol and avoid various side effects associated with LDL-cholesterol lowering therapies.

Esperion shares recently traded at $112.33. The consensus price target is $107.17, and the 52-week trading range is $12.75 to $118.95.

Anthera Pharmaceuticals (Gain of 175%)

Although Anthera Pharmaceuticals is up 175% so far in 2015, it was even higher earlier this month. Its market cap is $113 million. Anthera’s largest gain was from February, after it announced its interim analysis from a Phase 3 study of Blisibimod for systemic lupus. The study passed its futility analysis and will continue to completion with an enhanced endpoint, and the company said that enrollment would be completed in 2015 with final data in the third quarter of 2016.

Be advised that Anthera recently raised about $25 million in a secondary offering, and that Jefferies lowered its price target to $12.

Shares of Anthera traded at $4.34, in a 52-week trading range of $1.46 to $6.37. The consensus price target is $5.25.

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A chart montage of all five biotech gainers from StockCharts has been included below, along with a relative chart of the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF.