Of particular satisfaction is that biotech did much better than broad market averages, something that has not happened very often lately. The S&P was up only 1.6% and Nasdaq ended the week with a 2% rise. Last week’s jump puts biotech in the top quartile of its 52-week range. It is a solid 13.6% above the lows of last summer, and just 2.8% below the January highs.
Breadth was very solid, even when measured against a 3% rise in the index. The great preponderance of biotech companies -168 of them, to be exact - gained ground, while a relatively small 45 members of the list retreated. That means 3.7 biotech companies advanced for every one that retreated. Also, 24 biotechs rose 10% or more, while only 4 companies dropped a double-digit percentage, a ratio of 6 big winners for every big loser.
The average share of a biotech company (taking away the market cap factor of the index) rose an impressive 4.2%, outstripping the 3% of the CBT 200™ and showing that, once again, big cap biotech was somewhat of a drag on the performance of the sector.
In the IPO arena, no biotech companies were on the schedule for the holiday shortened week, and there are none for the upcoming week, either. But Simcere (NYSE:SCR), a Chinese maker of generic drugs for its home market, set terms and put itself on the docket for the following week. Simcere will seek to place 15.6 million ADSs in the hands of the public in a range between $12.50 and $14.50, giving the company a market cap of $844 million. The device maker CardioMEMS (SENS) also set terms. It will offer 6 million shares in a $12-$14 range. CardioMEMS develops miniature wireless sensors to monitor chronic cardiovascular diseases.
Corcept (NASDAQ:CORT) led the list of biotech companies higher with a gain of 55.6%. Corcept, which is developing a drug for major psychotic depression, placed 9 million shares at $1 each, and also was accepted on the Nasdaq Capital Market exchange, after being booted from the Global Market. Corcept moved 50 cents higher to $1.40, but still had a market cap of only $49 million.
Bioveris (BIOV) was a close second to Corcept, booking a 55.4% rise. The diagnostics company received a $21.50 buyout offer from Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY). Bioveris ended the week at $20.65, a jump of $7.36.
Dendreon (NASDAQ:DNDN) continued to climb higher after receiving a surprise advisory board recommendation for its prostate cancer immunotherapy, Provenge, the week earlier. Dendreon now has a market cap of $1.5 billion. Before the recommendation, Dendreon was changing hands for just over $5 per share, but it more than doubled after the positive news from the FDA. This week, it built on those earlier gains, closing at $18.05, an increase of 39.6% or $5.12 since last Friday.
Encysive (ENCY) was a 38.8% winner. It received permission to market Thelin, its treatment for pulmonary arterial hypertension, in Ireland. Although Thelin has been approved for use in Europe, it remains under FDA review in the U.S. Encysive advanced $1.05 to $3.76.
Antigenics (NASDAQ:AGEN) also had a very positive week, rising 35.4% without releasing any news. Like Dendreon, Antigenics is developing a cancer immunotherapy drug, and the interest in Dendreon has spilled over to other companies developing immunotherapies for cancer. Antigenics climbed 79 cents to $3.02.