Blockbuster mergers fail to lift Biotech stocks

Roche boosted its price to $95 to buy Genentech as expected and Merck will buy Schering Plough for a cash and stock deal valued at $41B including $10.50 in cash. M&A was one of the themes expected to support biotech stocks in 2009 and smaller deals have been executed or are in the works. The IBB was down 1.2% today and about 9% YTD and the XBI was flat today and down about 17% YTD.

BMY was a winner today up 3.6% to 19 helped by a favorable article in This Week’s Barron’s with good reviews for the CEO James Cornelius and his management team and their ability to create shareholder value.

My index of 33 mid to small cap biotechs was down about 0.9% today.
The “biocorpse” of the day was a 67% crash in Human Genome Sciences(HGSI at 55 cents) due to disappointing results in a late stage trial.The so called SVR (standard biological response rate) for their Albuferon HCV drug was inferior to the standard-of-care drug Pegasys. Analysts downgraded the stock.HGSI may be the worse biotech stock in history with a market cap of $75M while spending about $1.9B over 19 years.HGSI at one time traded at a split adjusted $100 share with the vision of developing drugs from DNA information.

Stem cell stocks (GERN,STEM) got a lift from the lifting of federal restrictions on funding of human embryonic stem cell research. The University sector is expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the ban lifted by Obama. However Congress and individual states need to get in the act next so this is more of a longer term issue.

The next BioBlog and portfolio review will be at the end of Q1.

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