Careful research is essential for traders who want to delve into biotech stocks. This high-growth area gives investors the potential for significant profits, provided they’re able to tolerate the risk involved in these types of trades. If you’re ready to get your feet wet, start with our list of the top 17 biotechnology companies, from industry stalwarts in existence for over a century to newer firms leading the charge in genome sequencing and other cutting-edge areas.
Knowing the ins and outs of the biotech industry will help you invest in this sector wisely. Start with the top 17 biotech companies we’ve identified:
- Alexion Pharmaceuticals
- Amgen Inc.
- Biogen Inc.
- BioMarin Pharmaceuticals
- Bristol-Myers Squibb
- Celgene Corporation
- Gilead Sciences
- Illumina Inc.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Novo Nordisk
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
- Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
What Are the Top Biotech Companies?
Our list of the top biotech companies appears below in alphabetical order. They were chosen based on company profits, the firms’ market capitalization, and their overall potential for growth and innovation over the coming months and years.
Founded in Boston in 1992, Alexion Pharmaceuticals develops therapies for rare genetic and metabolic diseases and autoimmune disorders, as well as therapies used in neurology, hematology, and nephrology. This biotech firm has a market value of $25.9 billion.
Amgen Inc. (Formerly Applied Molecular Genetics)
Founded in 1980, Amgen specializes in creating drugs to treat unmet needs in the pharmaceutical sector. This global biotech leader’s most notable products are Neupogen and Neulasta, which stave off infections associated with HIV, radiation, and chemotherapy, and Enbrel, which alleviates inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Forbes named Amgen the top biotech company of 2018, with a market value for that year of $120.3 billion. The company’s headquarters are located in Thousand Oaks, California, and the firm employs more than 20,000 individuals all over the world. Revenues in 2017 reached $22.8 billion. The company’s 2018 market cap is $122.7 billion on the NASDAQ.
Biogen Inc. (Formerly Biogen Idec)
Originally founded in Sweden in 1978, Biogen moved to the U.S. in 2003 for a merger with IDEC Pharmaceuticals. Today, this biotech company focuses on drug treatments for autoimmune, hematological, and neurological diseases, including several drugs to treat multiple sclerosis and the first FDA-approved monoclonal antibody treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This firm has a reported income of $2.539 billion and a $60.4 billion market value as of 2017.
Since BioMarin Pharmaceuticals was established in California in 1997, it has expanded to South America, Europe, and Asia. BioMarin specializes in drugs to treat rare genetic diseases, as well as enzyme replacement treatments. The market value of this company is $17.3 billion.
Formed in 1989, New York CIty-based Bristol-Myers-Squibb specializes in drugs to treat mental health conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS, and cancer, including advanced-stage disease. Mergers and acquisitions, including the purchase of Flexus Bioscience and iPierian, have helped elevate this biotech firm to a market cap of $81.2 billion and sales of $20.8 billion as of 2017. The firm has 23,700 employees.
Founded in 1986 and located in Summit, N.J., Celgene Corporation specializes in creating drugs for inflammatory diseases and cancer. This biotech firm’s most notable products include Vidaza, which treats myelodysplastic syndrome, and Revlimid, which treats multiple myeloma and anemia. As of 2016, the company had a market value of $50.9 billion and net income of $2 billion.
Gilead Sciences, based in Foster City, California, develops innovative antiviral drugs to treat heart and blood vessel conditions, lung and inflammatory diseases, cancer, liver disease, and HIV and AIDS. Its primary product, the Solvadi and Harvoni drugs to treat hepatitis C, cure more than 90% of cases when prescribed and taken as directed. Gilead’s innovations include the first-ever HIV treatment regimen available in a pill taken once a day as well as the first antiretroviral drug to limit the risk of HIV among high-risk individuals. As of 2017, Gilead employed 10,000 people worldwide, had sales of $25.7 billion, and had a market capitalization of $90 billion. The firm employs more than 10,000 people all over the world.
Innovation is the name of the game at Illumina, which is one of the only firms innovating in array-based and sequencing techniques to analyze gene function and variation. Based in San Diego since it was established in 1998, Illumina manufactures and sells DNA sequencers, non-invasive prenatal testing, proteomics, gene expression profiling, genotyping, and whole genome sequencing.
A diverse array of scientific, medical, and clinical research organizations rely on the products and services of this top biotech company. In fact, Illumina’s DNA sequencer has reduced the cost of this service from more than $1 million to just $4,000. This firm had a market cap of $43.3 billion in late 2018.
Johnson & Johnson
New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 and became an international provider of consumer goods, medical devices, and pharmaceutical products. Best-selling brands such as Sudafed, Motrin, and Tylenol are among Johnson & Johnson’s 172 drugs currently on the U.S. market. It also specializes inmedications in therapeutic areas such as oncology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, and immunology. Johnson & Johnson reported sales of $76.5 billion in 2017 with a market cap of $373 billion on the Dow Jones Industrial Average. More than 130,000 employees worldwide work for this top biotech firm.
Merck specializes in design and manufacture of health products for both humans and animals. Its products include vaccines and prescription drugs, as well as biological therapies such as treatments in acute care settings and treatments for cancer care, diabetes, hepatitis C, metabolic disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, Alzheimer’s disease, Ebola and other global pandemics, and antibiotic-resistant infections. Merck is located in New Jersey and was established in 1891. More than 69,000 thousands individuals around the world work for this firm, which had a market cap of $190 billion and sales of $40.1 billion as of 2017.
Founded in Switzerland in 1996, Novartis is a biotechnology company that primarily focuses on formulating generic medications and other pharmaceuticals, as well as eye-care products and developments in specialty medications, primary care, and oncology. In addition to its business in the U.S. and Europe, this firm is rapidly expanding to fulfill medical needs in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. In 2017, Novartis reported sales of $49.1 billion and more than 121,000 employees all over the world. In late 2018, the market cap was $198 billion.
The Danish Novo Nordisk spans the globe, with locations in 75 nations and manufacturing facilities in seven countries around the world. Novo Nordisk specializes in drugs for diabetes, hemophilia, growth hormone issues, and hormone replacement. In 2018, this biotech firm reported a market cap of $102 billion and 42,700 employees. Sales hit $16.9 billion in 2017. Novo Nordisk shares trade on NASDAQ.
Established in 1849, New York City-based Pfizer took a major leap forward in 2015 by purchasing Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox. At $160 billion, this transaction was the largest of its kind in history, as well as the most sizable acquisition ever seen in the industry. The biopharmaceutical research firm reported revenue of $52.5 billion in 2017 and late 2018 market cap of $256 billion. Pfizer is now the largest biotech firm in Ireland, where it moved after the Allergan acquisition.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Located in New York, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals focuses on sectors with significant medical needs that have as of yet gone unmet. Since its establishment in 1988, this biopharm firm has produced medications to treat colorectal cancer, rare anti-inflammatory diseases, age-related macular degeneration, atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and dermatitis. It also invented patented genetic analysis and research technologies. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals had a market value of $35.6 billion as of October 2018.
With 17 biopharmaceutical products on the market, Swiss company Roche ranks high in the global biotech industry. This company was founded in 1896 and has become a leader in cancer treatment and research, with drugs on the market for lung, ovarian, colon, skin, and breast cancer as well as products for diagnostics, diabetes management, neuroscience, and ophthalmology. Roche had nearly 98,000 employees in 2017, sales of $53.4 billion, and a market cap of $208 billion.
Sanofi, a French biopharm firm, has U.S. headquarters in Bridgewater, N.J., and has offices and facilities in more than 100 other nations. Sanofi focuses on animal health, new sectors in biotech, consumer health, drug innovation, and vaccines. In 2017, this company reported more than 100,000 global employees, market cap of $94 billion and sales of $40 billion.
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Founded in 1989, Vertex Pharmaceuticals has research facilities in both England and California. The Boston biopharmaceutical firm is best known for pioneering the framework of rational drug design. Its most notable drugs include a medication to treat hepatitis C and a combination formula to treat cystic fibrosis cases caused by a specific gene mutation. Vertex has a 2018 market cap of $43.3 billion.
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