Ebb & Flow
Packed with paper profits from the run up in cancer stocks over the past year, investors chose to sell into the news coming out of the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in New Orleans last week. If investors had bought a group of 124 stocks in BioCentury's cancer universe on March 7, 2003 - the biotech group's bottom - they would have seen a paper profit of 131% going into ASCO week. Backing out the high-flying cancer names of the past year - OSI (OSIP), ImClone (IMCL) and Onyx (ONXX) - still put the group up 112% going into last week. By comparison, the BioCentury 100 was up 73% over that same period, while the NASDAQ Composite was up 52% (see "Money to Be Had").
Apart from ImClone (IMCL), the most keenly watched ASCO stocks fell on the week (see "ASCO Hangover," A17). It didn't help that there were no eye-popping, later-stage data events.
MPM's Kurt von Emster said he was stumped by the declines. "I've spent the last three days with other biotech investors, and nobody can figure it out," he said. "People had high expectations coming into the conference, but I think the data met these expectations."
ASCO also occurred when the biotech market in general is showing signs of technical weakness. The BioCentury 100 fell 4% last week, making it the 11th week out of the last 14 that the index has