Ending HIV/AIDS: Hedge Funds Believe in These 5 Companies

Last week President Obama announced a new goal to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to 6 million people worldwide by 2013, up from an earlier goal of 4 million people.

"We can beat this disease. We can win this fight. We just have to keep at it, today, tomorrow, and every day until we get to zero," Obama said at the World AIDS Day event (via Reuters).

As part of the goal to achieve "an AIDS-free generation," Obama said the U.S. would provide anti-retroviral drugs to over 1.5 million HIV-positive pregnant women worldwide by 2013. Obama also announced a $50 million increase in spending on HIV/AIDS treatment in the United States.

Research explosion
This news comes at a time when HIV/AIDS research is gaining strong momentum. According to FierceBiotech, there are currently 88 drugs in the HIV/AIDS pipeline. Of these, 49 are antivirals and 27 are vaccines, says industry group PhRMA.

"Approaches include using genetic material taken from the virus itself to neutralize HIV, the use of transdermal vaccines to halt virus replication, and a treatment to prevent HIV from attaching to and infecting healthy cells." (via FierceBiotech)

A research group at Caltech also demonstrated that they could completely prevent HIV infection in mice by injecting an antibody gene.

Investing ideas
This is clearly a great time for biotech companies focusing on HIV/AIDS therapeutics, who seem to be at the cusp of a cure.

To invest in this trend, we ran a screen on the biotech industry for companies involved in HIV/AIDS. We screened these companies for those with the most optimistic outlooks from hedge fund managers, seeing the most significant net institutional buying over the current quarter.

Do you think these companies will contribute to a cure? (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

1. Idenix Pharmaceuticals (NAS: IDIX) : Engages in the discovery and development of drugs for the treatment of human viral and other infectious diseases in the United States and Europe. Market cap of $867.62M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 2.6M, which is 4.10% of the company's 63.49M share float.

2. Nektar Therapeutics (NAS: NKTR) : Engages in developing a pipeline of drug candidates that utilize its PEGylation and polymer conjugate technology platforms. Market cap of $563.0M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 3.2M, which is 3.11% of the company's 102.91M share float.

3. Vical (NAS: VICL) : Engages in the research and development of biopharmaceutical products based on its deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) delivery technologies for the prevention and treatment of serious or life-threatening diseases. Market cap of $337.12M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 1.5M, which is 2.24% of the company's 67.07M share float.

4. Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NAS: ACHN) : Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of treatments for infectious diseases. Market cap of $477.72M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 909.9K, which is 1.89% of the company's 48.05M share float.

5. Progenics Pharmaceuticals (NAS: PGNX) : Engages in the development and commercialization of therapeutic products to treat the unmet medical needs of patients with debilitating conditions and life-threatening diseases in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $236.32M. Net institutional shares purchased over the current quarter at 236.5K, which is 0.80% of the company's 29.52M share float.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.

Kapitall's Alexander Crawford does not own any of the shares mentioned above. Institutional data sourced from Fidelity.

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