Another Reason to Study Your Biotech ETF’s Holdings

February 25th at 1:34pm by Todd Shriber

Active followers of the biotechnology industry likely still remember the day in January when shares of Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NasdaqGM: ICPT) nearly quadrupled in a single trading session after trials for the company’s liver disease treatment proved successful.

Investors in biotech exchange traded funds remember the day as well because, although there are five biotech ETFs on the market, only one really benefited from the Intercept news. That being the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEArca: XBI) where Intercept is now the largest holding at almost 6.8% of the ETF’s weight.  [Why This Biotech Leads the Pack]

A similar scenario is playing out again Tuesday with the First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (NYSEArca: FBT) soaring over 5%  on a day when two of the other four biotech ETFs are lower and only one of the two, XBI, is higher by any noteworthy amount.

FBT is the only biotech ETF with notable exposure to InterMune (NasdaqGM: ITMN), shares of which are up more than 150% “after the company said its lung disease drug Esbriet met its goals in a late-stage clinical trial intended to help InterMune win marketing approval for the drug in the U.S.,” according to the Associated Press.

As of Monday, FBT had a 3.6% weight to InterMune, making the stock the smallest of the ETF’s 20 holdings. However, no other FBT holding has an allocation of more than 7.02%.

Importantly, no other biotech ETF has a weight of more than 1.14% to InterMune. The ETF that has that weight is XBI, hence why it is the second-best biotech ETF behind FBT Tuesday.

InterMune’s rise has stoked speculation the company could be a takeover candidate with a potential acquirer perhaps paying above $60 a share, a rich premium considering the stock is hovering around $35 at this writing.  That news would validate the previously highlighted theory that FBT is chock full of takeover candidates. [The Right ETF for Biotech M&A]

First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund

Tickers

FBT XBI