Biotech ETFs were the strongest market sector by far in early trading Thursday as portfolio holdings Human Genome Sciences (NasdaqGS: HGSI) and Gilead Sciences (NasdaqGS: GILD) soared on a takeover bid and encouraging drug results.
Human Genome shares rallied more than 100% following an unsolicited buyout bid of about $2.6 billion from GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK), although the proposal was rejected by Human Genome.
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (NYSEArca: XBI) jumped 5% at last check Thursday. Human Genome shares represented 2.6% of the fund as of Wednesday’s close. The ETF tracks an equal-weighted index of biotech stocks.
The cash offer of $13 a share represents an 81% premium to Wednesday’s closing price for Human Genome, which said it is considering strategic alternatives. The company said the GlaxoSmithKline offer “does not reflect the value inherent” in Human Genome.
Biotech ETFs are off to a big start in 2012 after breaking out in January. [Biotech ETFs Break Out]
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology is up 14% year to date, compared with a roughly 11% gain for the S&P 500, according to investment researcher Morningstar.