Biotech is a notoriously risky business. Many biotechnology products do not produce the desired results consistently, while others fail to gain acceptance in the marketplace. Of course, when a biotech product succeeds, investors can make a lot of money.

You can stay off the roller coaster by looking for companies that have a stable track record, with growth prospects that are reasonable rather than dramatic. Despite the drama that is built into the biotech business, there are companies that proceed calmly and offer investors reliable returns.

We have selected five top biotech stocks that are poised for growth in 2017. All figures are current as of May 15, 2017.

Celgene Corp.

Celgene (CELG) focuses on cancer and inflammatory diseases. The company not only develops its own products, it collaborates with other large drug makers to bring products to market.

The company's latest quarterly report, showed a 17.8% increase in revenue. Both revenues and income have been increasing for the past four years. Celgene's quarter-over-quarter earnings per share have increased 21%.

The stock gapped sharply upward in November 2016. CELG began a sideways-to-down trend and gave up some of the gains it made when it gapped up. On May 9, the stock dropped sharply when one of its partners, Acceleron Pharma, reported that it had done worse than analysts had expected.

The one-day drop did not continue, and the stock has been moving sideways since then. The company has financial expectations for the remainder of the year that are above analyst's estimates.

Gilead Sciences Inc.

Gilead (GILD) has been growing at a rate of around 30% for five years. The company is a leader in HIV treatments, and has a successful drug for treating hepatitis C. (See also: Gilead To Focus on NASH and HIV Drugs In 2017.)

Revenues and operating income have been declining, but analysts and the company are forecasting an earnings turnaround beginning in 2017 and lasting through 2019.

A look at the stock chart shows GILD has been in a declining price channel since May 2016. Watch for the stock to put in a bottom and turn upward again in mid-2017. If this occurs, this year could be a buying opportunity for a stock that has been unfairly beaten up.

Exelixis Inc.

Exelixis (EXEL) focuses on cancer care. It has anti-tumor drugs as well as treatments for kidney cancer.

The company has routinely delivered positive surprises on earnings. Guidance suggests that Exelixis will grow more than 110% in 2017.

The stock had a breakout to start the new year, and momentum looks positive going into the rest of 2017. The current uptrend began in May 2016, and after a pause in October and November, has resumed into 2017. I

Exelixis entered a licensing deal with Takeda Pharmaceutical (TKPYY) that pleased investors, and its drug to treat liver cancer is coming out of trials soon. (See also: Exelixis, Takeda Ink $145M Cancer License Pact.)

Enzo Biochem Inc.

Enzo (ENZ) offers therapies for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases.

The stock has been in an uptrend since March 2016, and started forming a new base in December. It is well above its 50-day moving average. The stock broke out of its base in early March of 2017 and has been climbing since then.

Enzo has a market cap of $433.52 million and has been increasing revenues steadily since 2014.

Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC

Jazz Pharmaceuticals (JAZZ) has developed a focus on sleep and blood disorders. The company has had a 20% annual growth rate for three years.

The stock dropped in value since August 2016, but began 2017 with an uptick. It had a high-volume breakout on January 19, 2017. It gave up some of the gains from that breakout, but has since resumed its upward climb.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the company's sleep-disorder drug in January of 2017.

The Bottom Line

Investing is not gambling. Though the biotech sector carries risk, it is still possible to find solid companies with reasonable prospects for growth. All of the companies on this list have weathered the ups and downs of the industry, and they look like they are ready to come out on top in 2017.

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