London & the Continent

No European bull

OXFORD - While U.S. biotech companies have benefited from a 12-month bull run, the same cannot be said for the European sector. U.K. biotech stocks may have outperformed their continental counterparts this year, but it is on the back of a disastrous 1998. The BioCentury London Index is up 32.4 percent during 1999 and 1.6 percent in the third quarter, whereas the majority of continental European stocks are down this year.

"The limited supply of biotech in 1997 and 1998 on various stock exchanges drove some stocks up to untenable valuations, peaking in mid-1998," noted Nick Woolf at BancBoston Robertson Stephens. "As missed expectations caused sentiment to falter, stock prices were bound to follow indiscriminately."