Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Despite a slow start, strong fundamentals will supprt the Biotech Sector

Back in January, I wrote an article predicting a good year for the Biotechnology/Biopharma sector based on early performance vs. major indices. Here is a link to that article.

Five months have passed since that post was published and I have written very few articles since. The markets have had a roller coaster ride. An ugly February-March period was rescued by Fed intervention and a short term rally that followed proved short lived.

But enough with pointing out the obvious. It took a lot of discipline not to trade the short lived rally and I hope those who bought this rally locked in their gains before the sell-off. Desite this correction, I do not see any reasons to jump into this market with both oil prices and unemployment increasing.

I still remain optimistic that Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical stocks will have good returns in 2008. The ASCO Cancer conference came and went with no major surprises. Both AMGN and DNA showed some good results. On valuation basis, I still Like GENZ as their diverse pipeline and solid track record puts fair value above $70. On the product side, I like VRTX's chances of turning Telepravir into a blockbuster drug in the near future. I expect Q2 earnings from most biotech companies to come in at or higher than expected due to solid sales and help from weak dollar.

My view is still very negative on the broader market. I expect the CPI numbers in July to be near or higher than 4%. With short term interest rates below 3%, it does not give investors any reasons to invest in US markets while they can get real returns in Europe where interest rates are higher than inflation. This lack of capital flow into US may partially explain the poor performance of the Biotech sector despite decent earnings. If the Fed starts to acknowledge the real inflation problem in US (which I believe started sometime around 2003 with real estate prices!) and raise the interest rates from their current "bank bail-out "levels, it should strengthen the dollar, stabilize commodities and restore investor confidence in US markets.

Again, it seems like I am just pointing out the obvious.

Bottom line: The biotechnology sector is fundamentally strong and may be temporarily under valued due to overall investor pessimism in US. The BBH is a great way to safely invest in the Biotech sector through an ETF.