Market Overview

These Are Four of the Hottest Biotechs in the Market Right Now


The stock market has been volatile in 2012. However, during this time, the biotech sector has been a consistent source of profits for investors. The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSE: XBI) has gained over 40 percent year-to-date, including nearly 17 percent over the last month alone. A number of catalysts have spurred risk appetite in the sector.

Recently, Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) gained FDA approval for its weight-loss drug Lorcaserin, which will be marketed under the name Belviq. This is the first weight-loss drug that has been approved in 13 years.

Also, on Friday, Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) announced that it was acquiring Amylin Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AMLN) for around $5.3 billion. Amylin has a number of products to treat diabetes.

Given the activity in the sector, Benzinga went looking for the biggest biotech winners over the last quarter. The four names highlighted below are all up more than 50% during this time and could be set for more big gains going forward.

Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ONXX): On Wednesday, June 20, an FDA advisory panel backed Onyx's drug Kryprolis. This drug is intended for patients who are suffering from relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma and have been through a minimum of two prior forms of therapy. Over the last month alone, the stock has jumped better than 50 percent as traders now view it as likely that the FDA will approve Kryprolis. The Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA) date for completion of FDA review of the Kyprolis NDA for accelerated approval is July 27, 2012.

Osiris Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OSIR): This company has seen its stock soar over the last month. This increase occurred after Osiris gained FDA approval for its drug Prochymal, the first-ever approved stem cell drug. Over the last month, Osiris shares have jumped almost 55% and the stock has been trading on very heavy volume. Year-to-date, OSIR is up 96%. This name is starting to generate significant investor interest, and the stock might be gearing up for more gains heading into 2013.

Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA): As mentioned above, Arena gained FDA approval for its weight-loss drug Lorcaserin in late June. The stock has soared nearly 482 percent in 2012. On Thursday alone, shares jumped around nine percent. In the wake of Lorcaserin's approval, Arena could be a potential buyout target. Its emerging weight-loss franchise could be an attractive addition for a larger, multi-national pharmaceutical company. Other companies with weight-loss drugs in their pipeline include Vivus (NASDAQ: VVUS) and Orexigen (NASDAQ: OREX). Both stocks have been very active surrounding the approval of Lorcaserin.

NewLink Genetics (NASDAQ: NLNK): This small-cap biotech has been moving consistently higher in 2012. Year-to-date, the stock is up almost 131 percent. One of company's products, HyperAcute Pancreas cancer immunotherapy, is currently in Phase III trials. NewLink also has other product candidates in clinical development to treat lung cancer and melanoma cancer.

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