Eurobio plays mixed on NASDAQ

European biotech companies quoted on NASDAQ appear to be missing out on the wild investor enthusiasm in the U.S. With the BioCentury 100 index rising 166 percent since Oct. 15, only Genset (NM:Genset; GENXY) and Qiagen (NMarkt:QIA; QGENF) seem to be keeping pace with the NASDAQ crowd. British companies on NASDAQ have turned in performances that are more in line with the 84 percent improvement in the BioCentury London Index over the same period.

The top performing European stock on NASDAQ in the last five months is the French genomics play Genset, which is up nearly 400 percent since Oct. 15, taking its market cap to r1.4 billion ($1.4 billion).

CEO Pascal Brandys told Ebb & Flow that he recognized that Genset is benefiting from the market's renewed interest in genomics companies. However, he noted the stock's performance still lags its U.S. peers.

Brandys reckons that Genset's fortunes are more tied to NASDAQ sentiment than just about any other European biotech, as 60 percent of the company's shares are held by U.S. investors. "Typically two-thirds of our stock is traded on NASDAQ," he said.

Peer Schatz, CFO of reagent supplier QIA also noted that his company has a U.S. look and feel. "U.S. investors hold almost a quarter of Qiagen's shares, and the company has a significant corporate presence in the U.S., where it earns some 52 percent of revenues," he said. However, the average daily volume on NASDAQ is only 125,000 shares, compared to the 200,000 traded daily on the Neuer Markt.

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