Looking for longer coat tails

Last week provided more than a cupful of hope for an industry looking for signs of financial life and validation, starting with Warner-Lambert's $2.1 billion takeout of Agouron (AGPH), followed by a healthy serving of consensus-busting profits from top tier companies, and topped off with a sprinkling of financing activity. The week's news events were enough to drive the BioCentury 100 up 4 percent.

At the least, Street-watchers figure the AGPH takeout will lend credence to the biotechnology model, even if the deal itself fails to trigger a rash of financings or buyouts.

"We don't expect a deluge of other pharma-to-biotech buyouts," said Mark Simon of BancBoston Robertson Stephens. "I think Agouron was unique, being a company whose products and technology were unencumbered, and they had a product on the market" ( see BioCentury Extra, Jan. 27).

As a consequence, Simon also doesn't think the AGPH news will do much to loosen the purse strings in the financing market. "We think the window is open for select companies, either late-stage product companies with compelling fundamentals or very strong platform companies with multiple partners and a clear competitive edge."

Still, Simon is encouraged that stocks have maintained their gains

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