The Biggest Biotech Companies | Investopedia

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Biotechnology uses living organisms to develop cutting-edge medical treatments and drugs to treat diseases and ease human suffering. The biotech sciences include genetics, genetic engineering, gene therapy, applied immunology and bioengineering. Companies that break ground in these areas may profit handsomely. Those that do not may fiscally suffer. The difficulty in predicting which path such companies will take makes the biotech industry notoriously more volatile than the broader stock market. Consequently, investors willing to accept more risk, for the promise of excessively higher returns, may wish to diversify their equity portfolio with a stable of biotech stocks. (See also: The Ups and Downs of Biotechnology)

The Biggest Biotech Stocks

The largest biotech companies by market capitalization currently listed on U.S. stock exchanges are:

Company

Ticker

Specialization / Focus

Market Capitalization ($Billions US)

Gilead Sciences

GILD

HIV/AIDS, liver disease & metabolic issues

88.16

Amgen Inc.

AMGN

Cancer, hematology, inflammatory diseases, nephrology, bone health

121.61

Celgene Corp.

CELG

Cancer and immune & inflammatory diseases

53.85

Biogen Idec

BIIB

Neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia, autoimmune diseases

60.85

Regeneron

REGN

Protein & antibody therapies

37.93

Alexion

ALXN

Severe and ultra-rare disorders

24.74

Vertex

VRTX

Small molecule drugs

41.68

Illumina

ILMN

Genetic treatments & diagnostics

42.56

Mylan

MYL

Generic & specialty pharmaceuticals

15.74

BioMarin

BMRN

Specialty pharmaceuticals

16.50

Incyte Corp.

INCY

Small molecule drugs

12.95

Alkermes

ALKS

Central nervous system and mental disorders

6.22

Source: Yahoo Finance data as of October 25, 2018.

Biotech ETFs

Biotech stocks can rise or fall, based on a host of company-specific factors like research announcements and FDA clinical trial results. Therefore investors may wish to diversify their biotech exposure by allocating portions of their portfolios to biotech mutual funds or biotech exchange-traded funds (ETFs) such as SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI), iShares Biotechnology Index (IBB), Market Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH) and PowerShares Dynamic Biotech & Genome ETF (PBE). (See also: Buyer Beware in Biotech ETFs.)

The Bottom Line

Biotechnology is on the front line of medical research and technology. Investing in biotech companies can pay off handsomely, given the industry’s potential for high profits, but the high risks associated with these firms can produce substantial losses. An investor can mitigate that risk by investing in mutual funds or ETFs, in order to diversify their biotech holdings.



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