Some of the worst returns on the market year-to-date have come from the biopharm sector. And yet within that sector there have been a few phenomenal overachievers. Below, we highlight a trio of companies in the pharmaceutical business that has turned in better than 90% returns since the bells rang at New Year's. All of them trade on the Nasdaq (Nasdaq:QQQQ), which, for the sake of a quick comparison, has returned just over 5% since January 1. Not a bad performance in and of itself, but also not a double.

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Way Ahead of The Pharma Pack
NPS Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:NPSP) is in the business of developing treatments for individuals with gastrointestinal and endocrine disorders. Since the first day of trading in 2010, the company's shares have risen 105%, largely on the strength of full year 2009 results reported in March. That compares favorably with the Pharmaceutical HOLDRs ETF (NYSE:PPH) which is actually down 2.5% over the same period.

In the last five years, NPS has grown sales at a rate of 42.67%. Just this year, the company chalked up EPS growth of 44.37%. Institutional investors own 77% of the company's float.

Pharmaceutical Group's Best Performance
Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:IDIX) turned in an equally strong performance, rising 100% YTD. Sales for the year grew by 25.5% and earnings per share were up by 27%. Just under 30% of the company's shares have been purchased by institutions to date.

The company is engaged in the development of drugs to treat human viruses and currently has four separate products in various phases of clinical evaluation. The company reports it's sufficiently capitalized to continue operations through the second half of 2011.

Different Scale of Operations
OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq:OSIP) has grown sales over the last year by 15%. The company's stock has appreciated by 90% YTD, mostly due to a recent hostile takeover bid by Japanese drug super heavyweight, Astellas Pharma, Inc. (PINK:ALPMF).

The Japanese outfit has offered $52 per share, which many believe is a low-ball offer and will likely be raised before the May 15 deadline on the offer passes.

The Wrap:
Even slow-poke sectors can have runaway winners, as the above three pharmaceutical shares prove. Stock pickers and specialists take note. (For more, see Pharma Patent Trolls: Cheap Drugs At A Steep Price.)

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Tickers in this Article: NPSP, PPH, IDIX, OSIP, ALPMF, QQQQ

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