As the global health care industry continues to deal with emerging coronavirus issues, pharmaceutical companies continue to make headlines. Accordingly, this could make pharmaceutical stocks viable plays in the stock market today. For the most part, the industry is home to companies that develop and market medications and treatments. All of which help in the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of diseases; and also the restoring, correcting, or modifying of organic functions. Overall, the need for pharmaceuticals will, in theory, never really die down. Because of this, could pharmaceutical stocks be a staple for investors’ portfolios now?

Well, for one thing, there is no shortage of exciting news to consider in the industry now. As of earlier today, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) is making headlines for several key factors. Firstly, it is going to acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA), a biotech firm that focuses on developing small molecule drugs. Secondly, there is also another positive update regarding its coronavirus vaccine candidate made in collaboration with BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX). Namely, Israeli researchers reportedly found that a three-dose course of the vaccine provides “significant protection” against the Omicron coronavirus variant. Should this be indicative of a potential growing case for booster shots, Pfizer would be in focus.

At the same time, other non-coronavirus-related pharmaceutical firms continue to press forward as well. Just last week, genome sequencing firm Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ: PACB) announced a new collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Through this partnership, the duo are working to carry out genome sequencing for rare diseases and their causes. By and large, all this activity could reignite investor interest in pharmaceutical stocks in the stock market now. Should you be interested in the industry, here are three names to know now.

Top Pharmaceutical Stocks To Buy [Or Sell] This Week

Editas Medicine Inc.

Starting us off, we have Editas Medicine, a leading genome editing company. In essence, it focuses on translating the power and potential of the Cas12a genome editing systems into a robust pipeline of medicines for people living with serious diseases around the globe. It uses CRISPR technology to develop new gene-edited medicines.

On Sunday, the company reported its in vitro and in vivo preclinical data, demonstrating robust tumor reduction and clearance. The data was on the enhanced tumor-killing capacity of two modified induced pluripotent stem cell-derived natural killer (iNK) cell therapies. This was done with the company’s proprietary AsCAs12a gene editing. “In this promising research, we demonstrate the use of our proprietary engineered AsCas12a nuclease and SLEEK technology with its high efficiency, multi-transgene editing capability to enable the efficient development and evaluation of multiple iNK therapeutic approaches,” said Mark S. Shearman, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, and Chief Scientific Officer, Editas Medicine.

Last month, it also reported its third-quarter financials and provided a business update. Diving in, the company reported that it ended the quarter with $657 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities. It expects that it will be able to fund its operating expenses and capital expenditures well into 2023. It also reported that its initial clinical data for EDIT-101 for Leber Congenital Amaurosis 10, a retinal degenerative disorder demonstrated favorable safety profile and efficacy signals. Given this piece of news, is EDIT stock worth investing in right now?

pharmaceutical stocks (EDIT stock)
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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Moderna Inc.

Moderna is a pharmaceutical company that focuses on messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. Today, the company is a pharmaceutical enterprise with a diverse clinical portfolio of vaccines and therapeutics for many fields. Its progress is remarkable, with Moderna collaborating with governments around the world to allow the authorized use of one of the earliest and most effective vaccines against the pandemic.

Last Friday, the company announced positive interim Phase 1 data for its quadrivalent flu vaccine and provided an update on its program. In the study, mRNA-1010 successfully boosted titers against all four strains in older and younger adults. This includes even the lowest doses and there were no significant safety concerns observed. The company also announced that the Phase 2 study of mRNA-1010 is now fully enrolled and preparation for the Phase 3 study is underway. 

It also announced an amendment to its existing contract with Gavi, the vaccine alliance to accelerate the supply of 20 million doses to COVAX by December 31, 2021, for a total of 54 million doses made available to COVAX in 2021. These doses were included in a previously announced agreement with Gavi. They were originally scheduled for delivery in the first quarter of 2022. Given the acceleration into 2021, Moderna expects to supply up to 96.5 million doses in the first quarter of 2022 and an additional 116.5 million doses in the second quarter of 2022. Gavi retains the option to procure 233 million additional doses in 2022 under the original agreement. All things considered, is this the time to be paying attention to MRNA stock?

MRNA stock chart
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

Another name to consider among pharmaceutical stocks today is Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY). After all, it is among the largest pharmaceutical firms in the world today. Its portfolio focuses on a broad range of disease areas, including oncology, cardiovascular, immunoscience, fibrosis and others. Given BMY’s presence in the pharmaceuticals industry, BMY stock could be worth keeping an eye on.

For one thing, the company continues to reward its investors. Evidently, BMY raised its quarterly dividend earlier today. To elaborate, BMY stock now comes with a quarterly dividend payout of $0.54 per share. This is a solid 10.2% year-over-year rise from the same quarter last year. Moreover, the increase also marks BMY’s 13th consecutive fiscal year increasing its dividend payouts.

Not to mention, the company is also authorizing an additional $15 billion in its multi-year share repurchase program. All in all, CEO Giovanni Caforio had this to say, “The company’s financial position is strong, and we remain committed to a consistent, balanced capital allocation strategy.” Furthermore, Caforio also adds that BMY is currently looking at a free cash flow of about $45 billion to $50 billion between 2021 and 2023. With the company’s strong balance sheet in mind, would you consider BMY stock a top buy?

BMY stock
Source: TD Ameritrade TOS

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