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It's all a matter of time

As everyone knows, the real issue in biotech investing is how long it takes to make any money. Two recent high-profile take-outs - Abbott's $7.3 billion stock buyout of Alza (AZA) announced last week, and Pharmacia & Upjohn's $729 million stock deal for Sugen (SUGN) - illustrate that in some cases, making money in biotech is just a matter of time.

AZA's calculation isn't as cut-and-dried. It was spun off as a dividend to shareholders of Syntex, now Roche Bioscience, and since has itself issued two stock dividends in the form of R&D spin-offs, and implemented two 2-for-1 splits.

According to the company, the imputed "distribution value" of AZA shares to Syntex shareholders was $26.75 per share. Adjusting for the splits brings the imputed cost basis to $6.688 per share.

AZA closed Friday at $49.938. Rounding this to $50, accounting for the spin-offs would adjust the price to $52.11, according to AZA spokesperson Patty Eisenhaur. This assumes the shareholder immediately sold the spin-off shares and reinvested the proceeds in AZA at its

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