By Karen Bernstein

Companies that hope they will be rewarded for value-adding events this year can stop holding their breath. Events that caused sustained increases in stock prices in past markets won't do that in today's climate, according to institutional investors interviewed for BioCentury's third annual report on the Buyside View.

While fund managers acknowledge that events other than pivotal trial data and FDA approvals - such as corporate partnerships and M&A activity - can add value to companies, they see no way to reap near-term rewards from those events in this bear market.

The implication is that in this year of the deal, companies for the most part will have to turn inward to judge the value added through corporate partnering and company combinations.

Some biotech apostles remain

Attitudes of fund managers range from completely negative - many have stopped investing in the sector - to those who believe there's still great value to be reaped from biotech.

Among the most positive is Sandra Panem of Vector Securities International, who thinks this is "a spectacular time to buy" and applauds the consolidation that's beginning to occur. Nevertheless, Panem believes that 1995 will be no less difficult than 1994, particularly as rising interest rates have negative implications for the performance of the stock market in general.

Compared to last year's crop of data, Sarah Gordon Wild of Amerindo Investment Advisors said she has a "little higher" level of confidence in some of the Phase III trials due to be completed this year.

She also believes that money can be made in some of the top-tier stocks. Amerindo ended 1994 flat, after being down 30 percent mid-year, as a result of posting gains in its top-tier holdings. "If we can make some real money in those and get the generalist institutions back into them and get some consolidation, people can make some money," she said. "It won't be a great year, but 30 percent is OK, it doesn't have to be double. I'm assuming no upside in the lower-tier stocks in '95."