Biotech Stocks Slide – Market Correction, or IPO Window Slamming Shut?

2013 and 2014 have been very good for biotechnology public markets. 35 biotechnology companies went public in 2013, and well over a dozen have gone public in the first few months of 2014.

Figure 1: Nasdaq Biotech Index since February 1 2014

With the surge in public launches, one must ask the question: “How long can it last?”

Just a few days ago Barrons’s cautioned about a potential bubble, and as Figure 1 (courtesy of MSN Money) shows, recent drops have effectively wiped out NASDAQ biotechnology industry gains since February 1st of this year.

While this quick rise and fall of value may be sobering, long-term value investors should take some comfort in the bigger picture. The recent IPOs enabled many companies which had been sitting on the sidelines for years to raise public cash and to offer exit opportunities to investors — both of which will support future growth in the sector, and the NASDAQ biotechnology index has generally been on a tear for the past five years (Figure 2).

Nasdaq biotechnology index March 2004 - March 2014
Figure 2: Nasdaq biotechnology index March 2004 – March 2014

So, the short-term question remains — is this a short-term correction, a closing of the IPO window, or the start of a larger correction?

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