Economic downturn? What economic downturn? Despite lackluster economic growth, biotechnology exchange traded funds (ETFs) have managed to notch solid performance this year.

In the United Kingdom alone, the bioscience sector has exploded. It now includes 942 companies, with 345 involved in the development, manufacture or sales of therapeutic products, according to PharmaLive. The biotech sector also added 3% more jobs year-over-year and turnover increased 18%.

Biotech ETFs have been rallying in recent weeks on increased mergers and acquisitions activity – almost $3.1 billion in biotech-related deals were made within just two days recently – remarks Kevin Grewal for TheStreet.

There could be more to come, too. As patents on blockbuster drugs start to expire, big pharma is setting its sights on smaller companies that focus on niche drugs for specific treatments. [2011 Could Be Health Care ETFs’ Year.]

For more information on the biotech industry, visit our biotech category.

  • SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEArca: XBI). XBI holds 51.5% of its assets in small-caps and 30.75% in mid-caps.
  • iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology ETF (NYSEArca: IBB). IBB includes Big Pharma companies, along with small- and mid-cap stocks.
  • First Trust Amex Biotech (NYSEAca: FBT). FBT has been the year’s best-performing biotech ETF, up 42.3%.
  • If you’re a believer in the biotech bull, consider ProShares Ultra NASDAQ Biotechnology (NASDAQ: BIB).

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.