Biotechnology, or biotech, is a type of applied biology that uses organisms and/or bioprocesses in engineering, technology, medicine and any other field that may require bioproducts. Biotechnology is also often used to describe genetic engineering and tissue culture technology, and more particularly as such engineering is applied to medical technology.
Currently, the use of biotechnology is advancing healthcare and medicine, providing improvements to the human condition, greater understanding of genetics, including disease predisposition, and new categories of drugs that treat some of the most problematic medical conditions.
Doctors and researchers are finding promising uses for biotechnology, including drug production, pharmacogenomics, gene therapy and genetic testing/screening. Biotechnological innovations will only continue to revolutionize medicine as the human understanding of genetics advances, providing people with earlier notice of coming problems and better weaponry to combat problems.
The following is a recent performance review for seven well-known biotechs that are publicly traded in the United States: Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALXN), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Ariad (NASDAQ:ARIA) Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD), Vertex (NASDAQ:VRTX). I have provided the 1-week, 2012-to-date, 3-month and 1-year equity performance rates for these biotech companies.
Amgen is the only listed equity that currently pays a dividend, and now yields about 2.1 percent. Amgen is also the largest biotech company, with a market valuation of about $60 billion. Amgen recently reported that its Q4 2011 revenue was up about three percent, but that its profit was down about nine percent due to increased costs.
All seven of these listed biotech companies are positive so far in 2012, including GILD, which suffered a significant drug and share-price setback after announcing poor phase II results for its experimental hepatitis C treatment (GS-7977 plus ribavirin), including a high rate of relapse shortly after taking the treatment.
The news resulted in GILD depreciating by 17 percent in the last week, though the company is still up 8.99 percent within 2012. GILD is also up 17.32 percent over the last year. Except for VRTX, the only listed equity that is down compared to a year ago, the other equities increased considerably including BIIB appreciating 74.93 percent, ALXN appreciating 84.34 percent and ARIA increasing a whopping 157.06 percent.
These biotech equities might provide investors with not only the opportunity to invest in a growing industry, but also to support the research and development of new treatments that may help society. Of course, there is no guarantee that these companies will continue to find new medical advancements, or that their competitors will not one day make their current innovations obsolete.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative and should not be construed as personalized advice as it does not take into account your specific situation or objectives.