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Listed below are eight biotech firms with enough cash to cover at least 12 quarters of their past year’s average quarterly operating expense.

We calculated the average quarterly operating expense over the last four quarters, and compared it with current cash holdings for each firm. All companies listed below have more than 12x cash for their average quarterly operating expense, translating into more than three years of operating expenses (based on historical costs--this analysis does not take into account possible increases in costs over coming months).

Given the cash holdings of these firms, is this the time to buy in? Look at the data below for guidance, and decide for yourself.

Operating expenses and cash data from MSN Money, short float and performance data from Finviz, recent developments from Reuters.

List sorted by Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses.

1. PDL BioPharma, Inc. (NASDAQ:PDLI): Market cap of $678.84M.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $13.4M vs. current cash holdings at $227.2M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 17.0, i.e. the company can go 17.0 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 96.55% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 8.5%, which implies a short ratio of 4.55 days. The stock has lost -18.32% over the last year.

Recent developments: Announced settling litigation against Novartis (Feb. 2011). Announced settling litigation with UCB SA regarding patent disputes among them (Feb. 2011).

2. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:REGN): Market cap of $3.33B.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $16.3M vs. current cash holdings at $249.4M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 15.3, i.e. the company can go 15.3 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 69.73% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 11.26%, which implies a short ratio of 13.71 days. The stock has gained 51.27% over the last year.

Recent developments: Announced submitting a Biologics License Application to the FDA for VEGF Trap-Eye to treat macular degeneration (Feb. 2011). Announced initiation of Phase 3 clinical trial of VEGF Trap-Eye (Jan. 2011).

3. Targacept, Inc. (TRGT): Market cap of $767.82M.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $18.2M vs. current cash holdings at $252.5M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 13.9, i.e. the company can go 13.9 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 98.42% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 3.17%, which implies a short ratio of 8.5 days. The stock has gained 41.35% over the last year.

Recent developments: Announced FY11 revenue guidance below analyst estimates (Feb. 2011). Announced initiating Phase II clinical trial of TC-6987 for treating inflammatory diseases including asthma and Type 2 diabetes (Feb. 2011).

4. Techne Corp. (NASDAQ:TECH): Market cap of $2.66B.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $14.4M vs. current cash holdings at $194.9M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 13.5, i.e. the company can go 13.5 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 76.85% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 1.9%, which implies a short ratio of 6.39 days. The stock has gained 13.86% over the last year.

5. ViroPharma Inc. (VPHM): Market cap of $1.37B.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $41.5M vs. current cash holdings at $505.2M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 12.2, i.e. the company can go 12.2 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 79.79% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 7.28%, which implies a short ratio of 7.34 days. The stock has gained 40.69% over the last year.

6. Theravance Inc. (NASDAQ:THRX): Market cap of $1.69B.

Average quarterly operating expenses over the last four quarters at $25.6M vs. current cash holdings at $309.6M. Cash/Avg. Quarterly Operating Expenses at 12.1, i.e. the company can go 12.1 quarters without generating revenue, and still cover the average quarterly operating costs. Cash holdings represent 97.88% of the most recent quarter's current assets.

Short float at 8.64%, which implies a short ratio of 11.57 days. The stock has gained 109.73% over the last year.

Recent developments: Announced initiating Phase III trial of the LAMA/LABA dual bronchodilator (Feb. 2011).

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.