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5 Best-Performing Biotech Stocks of June

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The biotech sector has been under a bit of a cloud, with stocks feeling the pressure of macroeconomic issues as well as sector-specific issues like increasing political and media focus on high price tags for new drugs, a changing competitive scenario, and mixed earnings reports.

The performance of this once impressive sector has been dismal in 2016 with the NASDAQ Biotechnology index declining 22.1% in the first half of 2016 and 7.5% in Jun 2016.



But not all biotech stocks had a bad run in June. Here is a look at 5 biotech stocks that managed to beat the downward trend and shot up more than 20% in the month of Jun 2016. All are Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.

Ontario, Canada-based Transition Therapeutics Inc. shot up 70.9% in June. The company has agreed to be acquired by OPKO Health, Inc. in an all-stock deal worth about $60 million (Read more: Transition Stock Up on News of Acquisition by Opko). This clinical-stage biotech company is focused on advancing novel therapeutics for central nervous system (CNS), metabolic diseases and androgen deficiency indications.

Opexa Therapeutics, Inc. saw its shares gain 27.1% in June. The company is developing personalized immunotherapies for major illnesses including multiple sclerosis (MS) as well as other autoimmune diseases such as neuromyelitis optica (NMO). Lead pipeline candidate, Tcelna, is a personalized T-cell immunotherapy that is in mid-stage development for the treatment of secondary progressive MS.

Austin, TX-based XBiotech, Inc. (XBIT - Free Report) is focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of therapeutic antibodies based on its True Human proprietary technology. The company’s shares gained 32.9% in June. XBiotech is currently seeking EU approval for its lead pipeline candidate, Xilonix – approval could come as early as the fourth quarter of 2016.

Anavex Life Sciences Corp.’s (AVXL - Free Report) shares surged almost 37% in June. The clinical stage company is focused on the development of differentiated therapeutics for the treatment of neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental diseases including drug candidates to treat Alzheimer’s disease, other CNS diseases, pain and different types of cancer.

Lead pipeline candidate, ANAVEX 2-73, is being developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other CNS diseases, including rare diseases, such as Rett syndrome. In Jun 2016, the FDA granted orphan drug status to ANAVEX 2-73 for the treatment of infantile spasms (Read more: Anavex's Lead Candidate Gets Orphan Drug Status Yet Again). ANAVEX 2-73 already had orphan drug status for the treatment of Rett syndrome.

Xencor, Inc.’s (XNCR - Free Report) shares were up 34.9% in June. The Monrovia, CA-based company develops engineered monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of asthma and allergic diseases, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Xencor has quite a few partnerships including with big names like Amgen, Merck, Alexion and Novo Nordisk among others. In Jun 2016, the clinical-stage company signed up with another big player -- Novartis -- for the development and commercialization of a couple of pipeline candidates focused on cancer.

The deal will see Xencor getting an upfront payment of $150 million and sharing development costs with Novartis. Importantly, Xencor could earn up to $2.41 billion in the form of milestone payments as well as royalties (Read more: Xencor Stock Up On Cancer Drugs Partnership with Novartis).


Will the Sector Bounce Back?

Given the overall performance of the sector so far in 2016, the big question weighing on investor’s minds is will the sector bounce back.

We note that interest in biotech stocks remains high despite the poor performance. Shares should be driven by factors like mergers and acquisitions, positive pipeline and regulatory updates and strong earnings results.

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