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The broader markets have been inching upwards during the first-half of 2011, but the biotech sector has come out guns blazing. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) has increased 6.3% year-to-date, but it has been left in the dust by a 17.2% showing from the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI). Much of the outperformance has transpired in just the past couple of months. With this notion in mind, here are three securities for traders to monitor in the biotech world during the next several trading sessions.
Investors in Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) got a serving of good news on Friday when a panel for the European Medicines Agency, recommended the approval of Benlysta. The drug which was approved in the U.S. in March is the first new lupus medicine to hit the market in more than 50 years.
Now Human Genome Sciences just needs to await a green light from the European Union executive commission before the drug can hit the market in Europe. This okay should be a mere formality as the commission has a history of siding with the panel. Shares of HGSI have risen 14.9% so far this year.
Making the Grade
Two other biotech stocks that received positive news on Friday are Amgen (AMGN) and Gilead Sciences (GILD). Amgen had its price target upped to $65 by Credit Suisse and Gilead was upgraded to outperform by Bernstein Research. Both stocks are within striking distance of their 52-week highs.
Amgen said on Friday that its bone drug XGEVA also received a positive recommendation by an EMA panel. The drug is intended to help adults with bone metastases. Shares of AMGN are up 10.9% since the beginning of the year.
Shares of Gilead got a slight boost on Friday when an analyst for Bernstein Research upgraded the stock citing improved prospects for revenue from the company’s HIV medicines due to an increase in federal funding.
Last month, Gilead said that its Q1 revenue from Atripla, a drug used to combat HIV, rose 7% on a year-over-year basis. The company benefitted from an upward trend in sales volumes for the drug in both the United States and Europe. Year-to-date, shares of GILD have spiked 13.1%.
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Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.