Best Biotech Stocks of 2021: A Year of Innovation and Growth

David Johnston CFO
3 min readJul 26, 2023

The year 2021 witnessed significant advancements in the biotechnology sector, with companies pushing the boundaries of medical science to address pressing global health challenges. From breakthrough therapies to pioneering research, the biotech industry demonstrated its resilience and potential for investors seeking promising opportunities. In this article, we will explore some of the best-performing biotech stocks of 2021, highlighting their achievements, market performance, and the factors contributing to their success.

The Biotech Boom Amidst a Pandemic

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique opportunity for the biotech sector to showcase its capabilities. Companies engaged in vaccine development, diagnostic tools, and therapies for infectious diseases came into the limelight. Among the standout performers was Moderna Inc. (MRNA). Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, based on innovative messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, gained global recognition for its high efficacy and rapid development. Investors who recognized its potential early on saw substantial returns as the stock surged throughout 2021.

Revolutionary Gene Editing with CRISPR

CRISPR-Cas9, a groundbreaking gene-editing technology, continued to make waves in 2021. Intellia Therapeutics (NTLA), a leading biotech company in this field, demonstrated significant progress. The company’s achievements include successful clinical trials for treating genetic disorders, attracting investors eager to capitalize on the potential of gene therapies. Intellia’s stock soared during the year, reflecting the growing optimism surrounding the prospect of targeted genetic treatments.

Oncology Breakthroughs and Immunotherapies

Cancer treatment remains a critical area of focus for the biotech industry. Several companies made notable strides in developing innovative oncology therapies and immunotherapies. One of the top performers was Seagen Inc. (SGEN), known for its targeted cancer therapies. The company’s strong clinical trial results and expanded drug portfolio fueled investor interest, contributing to the stock’s impressive performance in 2021.

Biogen’s Alzheimer’s Drug Approval

In June 2021, Biogen (BIIB) received much-anticipated approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Alzheimer’s drug, Aduhelm. The approval marked a major milestone, as Aduhelm became the first drug to target the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s disease. Despite some controversy surrounding the drug’s efficacy, the approval sent Biogen’s stock soaring, attracting both supporters and skeptics alike.

The Role of SPACs in Biotech

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) gained popularity in the biotech sector in 2021 as a means of raising capital and facilitating mergers. These blank-check companies provided an alternative route for biotech firms to go public. Some successful SPAC-backed biotech companies in 2021 included 23andMe (M.E.) and Ginkgo Bioworks (DNA). These companies’ unique approaches to genetics and synthetic biology garnered investor attention, driving their stock prices upward.

Regulatory Hurdles and Risks

While the biotech sector showed remarkable growth in 2021, it also faced regulatory challenges and risks. Drug development is a complex and time-consuming process, and not all companies see positive outcomes. Some promising candidates failed to meet clinical trial endpoints, leading to substantial stock price declines. Moreover, regulatory changes and uncertain market conditions influenced investor sentiment.

The year 2021 was an exciting time for the biotech industry, with numerous companies making significant strides in medical innovation and delivering impressive returns to investors. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated research and development efforts, highlighting the sector’s ability to respond to global health crises swiftly. From groundbreaking gene-editing technologies to groundbreaking oncology therapies, the biotech sector demonstrated its potential to revolutionize healthcare.

As with any investment, it is essential for investors to conduct thorough research and carefully assess the risks involved in the biotech sector. While some companies experienced exponential growth, others faced setbacks that impacted their stock performance. Investors should consider their risk tolerance and long-term investment goals when venturing into the biotech market. Nonetheless, the year 2021 showcased the transformative power of biotechnology and its potential to shape the future of medicine.

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David Johnston CFO

Former CFO David Johnston is the proud founder of the dbj Consulting LLC.