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. (To learn more, check out: A Primer on the Biotech Sector.)

We have selected five top biotech stocks that are poised for growth for 2017. All figures are current as of Oct. 12, 2017.

Celgene Corporation (CELG)

Celgene 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. Revenues have grown in recent quarters, and operating income has increased steadily. Celgene has been a stable company, especially considering that the biotech sector carries high risk.

The stock started 2017 with steady gains through April but then gave back those gains. At the beginning of June, the stock found support and began rising again. After another dip in August, the stock has continued its solid performance. Celgene could perform well in the final quarter of 2017. The company has financial expectations for the remainder of the year that are above analyst estimates. (See also: Celgene, Biogen Are Poised to Break Out: A Technical View.)

Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD)

Gilead 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. Revenues have been rising, and operating income is up for the past four years. Analysts and the company are forecasting earnings growth through 2017 and lasting through 2019.

A look at the stock chart shows that Gilead had been in a declining price channel since May 2016. The stock put in a bottom at around $64, then broke sharply upward in late June 2017. The stock had a major high-volume breakout at the beginning of September but has not succeeded in advancing much since then. (For more, see: Gilead, Amgen and Biogen May Lift Biotech Higher.)

  • Average Volume: 9,302,821
  • Market Cap: $105.96 billion
  • PE Ratio (TTM): 8.81
  • EPS (TTM): $9.21
  • Dividend and Yield: $2.08 (2.50%)

Exelixis, Inc. (EXEL​)

Exelixis 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 year abd then began forming a base. It remained in that consolidation phase through the first half of the year. The stock broke sharply upward out of the base in late June 2017, and despite a dip in late September, It has essentially held on to those gains. 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.)

  • Average Volume: 3,461,224
  • Market Cap: $7.345 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 126.21
  • EPS (TTM): $0.20
  • Dividend and Yield: N/A (N/A)

Enzo Biochem, Inc. (ENZ)

Enzo offers therapies for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infectious diseases. The stock has been in an uptrend since March 2016, and it started forming a new base in December 2016. The stock broke out of its base in early March 2017 and has been climbing since then. It had a second breakout on June 11, 2017. Now it is in a new base that began forming in late June.

  • Average Volume: 190,250
  • Market Cap: $492.011 million
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 14.82
  • EPS (TTM): $0.71
  • Dividend and Yield: N/A (N/A)

AbbVie Inc. (ABBV​)

AbbVie is the maker of Humira, which treats autoimmune issues. The company also has products to treat leukemia and hepatitis C, as well as treatments that suppress HIV. AbbVie is involved in testosterone-replacement treatments and has drugs for multiple sclerosis. The stock has been in an uptrend since late April 2017. (For more, see: AbbVie Tops Q2 Earnings and Revenues, Outlook Intact.)

  • Average Volume: 6,224,303
  • Market Cap: $146.05 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 22.53
  • EPS (TTM): $4.07
  • Dividend and Yield: $2.56 (2.81%)

The Bottom Line

Investing is not gambling. Although 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 the remainder of 2017. (For additional reading, check out: Risks and Rewards of Biotech Companies.)

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