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 the remainder of 2017 and beyond. All figures are current as of Dec. 6, 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. However, Celgene shares declined sharply in October 2017, falling more than 30% over the course of the month as the company cancelled studies of a Crohn's disease treatment and reported worse-than-expected third quarter results. It appears that the stock found support at the psychologically important $100 level, and given Celgene's solid long-term track record, the recent declines may represent a buying opportunity. (See also: Biotechs Celgene, Biogen May Rally Through Year End.)

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.

A look at the stock chart shows that Gilead entered a declining price channel starting around May 2016. The stock put in a bottom at around $64, then broke sharply upward in late June 2017. The stock had another major high-volume breakout at the beginning of September, but since then, it has given back those gains. Although there is some uncertainty surrounding several of the company's products, one potential catalyst is a new HIV treatment combination that has been designated for priority review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with a decision due by February 2018. (For more, see: Biotech Stocks May See a New M&A Wave in 2018.)

  • Average Volume: 8,452,612
  • Market Cap: $95.737 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 8.34
  • EPS (TTM): $8.79
  • Dividend and Yield: $2.08 (2.85%)

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.

The stock had a breakout to start the year and then began forming a base. It remained in that consolidation phase through the first half of the year. Exelixis 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 and may be poised to head upwards once again. 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: 3,779,771
  • Market Cap: $7.757 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 53.51
  • EPS (TTM): $0.49
  • 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 that base in early March 2017, and it had a second breakout on June 11, 2017. The stock is now in a new base that began forming in late June. With a market cap of just over $435 million, Enzo represents the smallest company on our list, which could suggest even more volatility in a sector that is already known for its ups and downs.

  • Average Volume: 184,028
  • Market Cap: $435.001 million
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): -185.4
  • EPS (TTM): -$0.05
  • 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. The stock surged in September, and at the end of that month, AbbVie settled a dispute with Amgen Inc. (AMGN), successfully delaying the competitor's launch of a biosimilar version of Humira. (For more, see: AbbVie Q3 Earnings Top, Revenues In Line, View Up.)

  • Average Volume: 6,842,703
  • Market Cap: $150.703 billion
  • P/E Ratio (TTM): 22.93
  • EPS (TTM): $4.12
  • Dividend and Yield: $2.84 (2.98%)

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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