Biotech Survives Market Turbulence in November

    SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - Wall Street closed out a volatile month and
although the Dow ended the final week of November with gains, it still posted
a 4% decline for November. This was even in wake of its biggest percentage
gain in four and a half years during the month. "Investors remained extremely
nervous about inflation, oil prices and the weakness in the economy," said G.
Steven Burrill, CEO, Burrill & Company, a San Francisco based global leader in
life sciences whose principal activities are in Venture Capital, Merchant
Banking and Media. "Although not totally immune from the market turmoil,
biotech held its own and the Burrill Biotech Select Index was only down
marginally, in stark contrast to the NASDAQ, which took a 6% hit in November.
    "Biotech had a great deal of news to keep investors interested during the
month... particularly on the M&A front with companies having their own version
of the traditional consumer 'Black Friday' spree," noted Burrill.
    Celgene Corp. vaulted itself into biotech's top five by market cap with
its acquisition of Pharmion Corp. for $2.9 billion in cash and stock. The move
is part of its drive to become a major global player in developing and
marketing blood-cancer drugs.
    "The deal reflects the intense competition among drug makers for
acquisitions to improve their pipelines," explained Burrill. "M&A has become a
staple in biotech land. There is pressure on the management of pharmaceutical
and biotech companies to perform and increase shareholder value and M&A has
become the tool of choice to do this. Not only are we seeing biotechs
acquiring biotechs but the pending expiry of patents on a number of
blockbuster pharmaceuticals has stoked demand by big pharma for small
innovative biotechs that can be easily acquired and integrated.
Sanofi-Aventis, for example, says that it plans to aggressively pursue biotech
buyouts. As more big developers fill their pipelines with biologics,
competition for the most promising biotech drugs will be intense.
    "Among the glut of transactions during November was Glaxo's acquisition
of privately-held Reliant Pharmaceuticals for $1.65 billion and Pfizer's
acquisition of Coley Pharmaceuticals for $164 million. Reliant was planning
$400 million initial public offering and its decision to be acquired provided
a major premium for the company's investors.
    "The environment for M&A is bullish right now... so much so that
biotech's are planting 'for sale' signs on their lots," Burrill explained.
"Following Biogen Idec, which put itself up for sale last month,
Vancouver-based QLT said it was seeking potential buyers for some or all of
its assets and MGI Pharma announced that it was looking at its options
including a buyer."
    Biotech IPOs
    The uncertain capital markets weighed on biotech companies hoping to move
off the IPO runway. In November only ARYx Therapeutics, which re-engineers
commercially successful drugs to eliminate safety issues, priced a 5 million
share offering at $10 -- significantly lower than its original $14 to $16
    Two other companies added themselves to the runway: Aegerion
Pharmaceuticals, Inc. that is focused on development of small-molecule
therapeutics to treat cardiovascular and metabolic disease; and ChemoCentryx,
which is developing therapeutics targeting chemokine receptors to prevent
autoimmune disorders and certain cancers.
    Biotech Indices
    "With one month to go the Burrill Biotech Select Index is up 16.6% year-
to-date, well ahead of the Dow and Nasdaq. This is an excellent return
considering the ongoing uncertainties in the general markets," said Burrill.
    Major movers in the Biotech Select Index in November were Neurocrine
Biosciences (up 41%) and Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. (up 25%). At one
point shares of Millennium hit a new annual high amid a sharp rise in revenues
for their cancer drug Velcade and upcoming Phase III trial data in multiple
myeloma. Millennium's share value did take a slight hit after reporting that
it was dropping development of its MLN3897 for rheumatoid arthritis after it
was shown not to be effective in Phase II clinical trial.
    Also stubbing their toes were Amgen Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.
Amgen reported that interim results of a Phase III study of anemia drug
Aranesp as a breast cancer treatment failed to show a significant difference
between patients using the drug and those in control groups. The news came too
late to effect the company's share price, which fell to $53 in after-hours
trading, having closed the month at $55.25, down 5% (-19% year-to-date).
    Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc's shares closed the month down 21% after
safety concerns prompted its partner Merck & Co. to suspend enrollment in
their Phase II clinical trial for testing the leukemia treatment MK-0457. One
patient was observed with a QTc prolongation, a heart condition that results
in irregular heartbeat and could result in a heart attack.
    Biotech Industry's Market Cap

    The biotech industry's market cap dropped 1.2% in November to close at
$484 billion.

    Biotech Indices

    Index                 12/29/06      3/30/07      6/29/07      9/28/07
     Biotech Select         303.96       317.03        319.5       348.75
    Burrill Large Cap
     Biotech                424.56       419.97       409.56       450.85
    Burrill Mid-Cap
     Biotech                171.55       179.02       183.23       199.75
    Burrill Small Cap
                143.6       144.44       142.06       137.03
    Burrill Genomics        101.69       107.98        91.68        96.62
    Burrill AgBio           124.52        141.8        171.3       179.11
    Burrill Industrial      150.85       148.59       163.99       157.54
    Burrill Diagnostic      122.79       136.76       149.77       169.72
     Nutraceutical          629.56        639.2       613.86       677.58
    NASDAQ                 2415.29      2421.64      2603.23       2701.5
    DJIA                  12463.15     12354.35     13408.62     13895.63
    Russell 2000            787.66       800.71        833.7       805.45
    Amex Biotech            754.25       764.18       779.49       821.72
    Amex Pharma             345.06       342.01       349.75       346.44

    Index                 10/31/07     11/30/07     % change     % change
                                                       Month         Year
    Burrill Biotech
     Select                 357.14       354.62       -0.71%       16.67%
    Burrill Large Cap
     Biotech                478.59       479.27        0.14%       12.89%
    Burrill Mid-Cap
     Biotech                209.25       200.94       -3.97%       17.13%
    Burrill Small Cap
     Biotech                143.72       130.92       -8.91%       -8.83%
    Burrill Genomics        102.68        98.88       -3.70%       -2.76%
    Burrill AgBio           189.53       182.88       -3.51%       46.87%
    Burrill Industrial      160.64       158.03       -1.62%        4.76%
    Burrill Diagnostic      175.89       158.37       -9.96%       28.98%
     Nutraceutical          693.44       606.23      -12.58%       -3.71%
    NASDAQ                 2859.12      2660.96       -6.93%       10.17%
    DJIA                  13930.01     13371.72       -4.01%        7.29%
    Russell 2000            828.02       767.77       -7.28%       -2.53%
    Amex Biotech            840.36       828.69       -1.39%        9.87%
    Amex Pharma             351.31       355.88        1.30%        3.14%
    About Burrill & Company
    Founded in 1994, Burrill & Company has over $950 million in venture
capital funds under management and has an active merchant banking and media
business. The company's 50 person scientific and business team, supported by
its nearly 40-person Advisory Boards, the strategic and financial network of
its limited partners, and the close relationships developed with numerous life
science companies and management, provides Burrill with unparalleled access
and insight.
    Burrill publishes a wide range of biotechnology/life science
bio-intelligence reports, the Journal of Life Sciences and facilitates leading
life sciences conferences and events. The company analyzes the
state-of-the-industry through its monthly reports, the quarterly Burrill
Biotechnology Intelligence Report and its flagship annual book -- the 22nd
Edition entitled Biotech 2008: A Vision for the Next Decade will be published
in January 2008.

For further information:

For further information: Peter Winter, Editorial Director of Burrill & 
Company, +1-415-591-5474 Web Site:

Organization Profile


More on this organization

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890