The share prices of blue-chip biopharmaceutical companies continued on their lackluster trajectory, which started in June and collectively lost ground last month, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index slipping about 1.3% as investors took a break in order to digest the deluge of COVID-19 vaccine data released during the period and the impact on the bottom lines that the pandemic has exerted among those companies that have reported their second-quarter results.
The share prices of blue-chip biopharmaceutical companies closed out the month on a high note to contribute to their stellar collective performance during the second quarter, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index increasing almost 20%.
Blue chip public biopharmaceutical companies continued their positive trajectory in May, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index recording an 8% jump in valuation and contributing to its year-to-date performance of approximately 17%.
Investors are beginning to show confidence in the financial markets, once again believing that the worst of the ravages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are behind us and that the stringent restrictions on business activity and personal behavior currently in place will be slowly lifted. As a result, stocks in all sectors rallied in April from their March meltdowns. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recorded an 11.08% increase in the period, its largest one-month percentage gain since January 1987.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the economy and played havoc with the financial markets, there are promising signs that investors are slowly returning as infection curves begin to flatten thanks to social distancing measures. There is no doubt that they are showing confidence in those leading biopharmaceutical companies who they believe hold the keys to unlocking cures for the deadly infection. In addition, amid the intense activity related to COVID-19 research and development, the FDA did take some time to approve several new medicines, reinforcing the fact that innovation has not been completely throttled by the industry’s focus on the pandemic.
After plunging dramatically at the beginning of the month, biopharmaceutical equities appear to be recovering some of the valuation they originally lost when the financial markets cratered. As the curtain closed on a very turbulent month that most investors will want to forget, the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index finished up 0.75%, but down about 2% for the year.
The circuit breakers activated almost immediately when the markets opened this morning as the Dow plummeted, with investors moving into cash and away from equities. Clearly, they were not impressed with the Federal Reserve’s decision to slash its benchmark interest rate to nearly 0% to help combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.
The financial markets were delivered a one-two punch March 9 – a plunge in oil prices along with fears that the coronavirus is continuing to spread unabated. As a result, the Dow Jones Industrial Average cratered 1,500 points in early trading after a brief halt with market circuit breakers kicking in. Biopharma equities did not escape the carnage, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical index trading down about 4% by market close, with the Dow closing down 7.8%.
Biotech investors had every reason to feel bullish heading into the new decade. The sector had turned around in 2019 and was riding a wave of a very strong fourth-quarter performance, with the BioWorld Biopharmaceutical Index closing up 14% for the year after being underwater from April through to September. Unfortunately, those great expectations were quickly erased during J.P. Morgan Healthcare conference week (Jan. 10 – Jan. 17), which turned out to be a very low-key affair absent of any blockbuster M&A revelations. As a result, confidence has now given way to concerns about the prospects for biopharmaceutical companies going forward, particularly as unfavorable political rhetoric on drug pricing will certainly be dialed up during this election year.