Deal for Forest Fantastic for Pharma ETFs

Shares of drugmaker Forest Laboratories (NYSE: FRX) are up more than 29% Tuesday after the company received a $25 billion cash and stock takeover offer from generic drugmaker Actavis (NYSE: ACT).

Not that they need it, but news of the Actavis/Forest marriage is predictably proving to be a boon for pharmaceuticals exchange traded funds. Much of the strength (and valuation concern) in diversified health care ETFs such as the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLV) dating back to last year has been attributed to the biotechnology sub-sector. [Health Care ETFs Dealing With Lofty Valuations]

That is reasonable as biotech accounts for almost 20% of XLV’s weight and four biotech stocks are found among the ETF’s top-10 holdings. Still, the XLV and rival ETFs remain pharmaceuticals heavy. Pharmaceuticals names account for 45% of XLV’s weight and the ETF allocates 11.7% of its weight to Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), more than its combine weight to Gilead (NasdaqGM: GILD) and Amgen (NasdaqGM: AMGN).

S&P Capital IQ data point out that only a small number of ETFs feature Forest among their top-10 holdings, but there are a few dedicated pharma ETFs that are getting big boosts on news of the Actavis takeover.

The $616 million iShares U.S. Pharmaceuticals ETF (NYSEArca: IHE) is up 3.4% today on volume that is already above the daily average thanks to a combined 8.7% weight to Actavis and Forest. The stock’s are IHE’s seventh- and eighth-largest holdings, respectively. IHE, which celebrates its eighth anniversary in May, hit an all-time high today.