The big news out of the healthcare sector Thursday is AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) offering $21 billion, or $261.25 per share in cash and stock, for Pharmacyclics (NasdaqGS: PCYC), a maker of cancer treatments, in what represents the largest takeover of a biotech company in 15 years.
AbbVie’s move on California-based Pharmacyclics underscores at least two truths about the current state of affairs for the healthcare sector and, more specifically, the biotech industry. First, healthcare mergers and acquisitions activity is alive and well and that will likely remain the case for the foreseeable future.
Second, makers of cancer treatments and therapies are ideal takeover targets. Both scenarios are good news for the BioShares Biotechnology Clinical Trials Fund (NasdaqGM: BBC). With its December debut, BBC is one of the newest biotech ETFs, but the ETF’s performance dispels the notion of waiting on the sidelines for new ETFs to gain assets and a following. Keep in mind such a strategy is the epitome of the herd mentality and will lead the unknowing investor to arriving late to the party. [Interesting New Biotech ETFs]
With its almost 2% gain Thursday, BBC is up nearly 19% year-to-date. News of AbbVie’s offer for Pharmacyclics is, predictably, boosting scores of biotech ETFs today. BBC is no exception. On more than double the its average daily volume, BBC earlier hit a record high, making it one of 21 healthcare ETFs to accomplish that feat today. To put that number into perspective, that is 21 of 30 ETFs to hit record highs today.
Although Pharmacyclics is not one of the 67 stocks held by BBC, big pharma’s thirst for acquiring makers of cancer therapies will continue to affect the ETF. Of the various drugs and treatments biotech firms can be involved with, oncology is by far the most prominently represented in BBC. Twenty-six of the ETF’s 67 holdings have lead oncology drugs.
That includes high fliers such as Kite Pharmaceuticals (NasdaqGS: KITE), Puma Biotechnology (NYSE: PBYI) and Ziopharm Oncology (NasdaqGS: ZIOP). All Ziopharm has done this year is surge 172%, making the gains of 26% and 13.7% for Puma and Kite seem small by comparison. [Puma Pumps up Biotech ETFs]