Market volatility has suddenly created some great opportunities, including those in the biotech sector.
Supporting the inevitable ascent of the industry is the release of a steady stream of compounds that have helped them rack up billions in new revenue.
Consider that since it began trading in early 2001, the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index (Nasdaq: IBB) is up 130%. That's more than triple the S&P 500's 13-year return of 43%.
And for biotech as a group, things just keep getting better, with a number of leaders crushing the market over the last two years.
One example is Gilead Sciences Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD), which has returned roughly 185% in two years. Gilead has treatments for HIV, cardiovascular diseases, hepatitis C, and more.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: REGN) has a two-year return of 187%. The company is best known for EYELEA, a compound that combats age-related macular degeneration of the eyes that can lead to blindness.
But as impressive as these stocks have been, there are three great opportunities in the sector with just as much, if not more, potential that just got cheap.
They're all 2014 IPOs... and the market hasn't quite figured out just how profitable they'll be.
For the time being, these shares are in the discount bin. They won't stay there for long...Profit Machine No. 1 Auspex Pharmaceuticals
Auspex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: ASPX) went public on Feb. 5 with an offering price of $12. It was recently trading at $23 for gains to date of 92%.
Auspex specializes in developing drugs to treat orphan diseases, defined as those that affect fewer than 200,000 patients. Because there are more than 6,000 such diseases in the United States, the federal government gives firms what amounts to a 7-year monopoly on orphan drugs.
Based in suburban San Diego, Auspex is focused on conditions that cause hyperkinetic movement disorders such as Huntington's disease and Tourette's syndrome.
It's most promising candidate is SD-809, a drug proposed to treat involuntary abdominal spasms related to Huntington's, a hereditary neurodegenerative disease that results in motor, cognitive, and psychiatric disability, primarily due to the destruction of neurons in the brain.
SD-809 is in advanced clinical trials and has already shown a tremendous amount of potential. Other drugs in Auspex's pipeline include those used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and conditions like pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs) and obstruction of the coronary arteries.Profit Machine No. 2Revance Therapeutics
On Feb. 6, Revance Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: RVNC) went public with an offering price $16. Recently trading at about $36, the stock is already up 125%.
Revance isa specialty firm focused primarily on products for dermatological applications that provide an alternative to Botox injections.
As such, the company's lead product does rely on the botulinum toxin but is applied topically to reduce or eliminate facial lines like "crow's feet" and "laugh lines."
Currently in advanced clinical trials, the product is significant for patients who prefer to avoid injections. However, Revance does have a similar leading candidate, RT002, that is essentially an injectable form of compound.
Other products in Revance's pipeline include those used to treat migraine headaches, excessive and unexpected perspiration, and other facial lines. Most of these product candidates are either in early or mid-stage trials.
The company says it is addressing markets that will grow 72% from $2.5 billion in the 2012 base year to $4.3 billion in 2018. Revance also says it expects to launch three products by 2017.Profit Machine No. 3 Cara Therapeutics
With a market cap now valued at $375 million, Cara Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: CARA)began trading on Jan. 31 with an offering price of $11. After a recent correction, the stock has gains to date of about 26%. I think that makes it an even better bargain.
Cara is developing therapies to treat acute and chronic pain as well as diseases associated with inflammation. In particular, it's focused on postoperative pain.
This is a potentially huge market. Some 46 million inpatient and 53 million outpatient surgeries are performed in the United States each year that require a pain relief drug. Cara officials say research reveals that more than half of those patients complain of inadequate relief.
Its most promising therapeutic is CR845, a compound developed to specifically treat acute pain with anti-inflammatory properties. Cara is working on two forms of CR845, injectable and pill versions.
At the same time, it is also working on a compound that treats pain and swelling based on a form of cannabis (marijuana). Known as CR701, the drug has shown promise when used in rodents, but has not yet entered human trials.
Along with the other winners, Cara shows that the biotech stocks that we've looked at hold great promise for both patients and investors alike.
And with the market pullback, now is the time to take advantage...Tags: Best Biotech Stocks, best biotech stocks 2014, best biotech stocks to buy, best biotech stocks today, Biotech, biotech stocks, long-term profit, Nasdaq: ASPX, Nasdaq: CARA, Nasdaq: GILD, Nasdaq: IBB, Nasdaq: REGN, Nasdaq: RVNC