More Support for Biotech ETFs as Value Plays

With investors searching for sectors that look like legitimate value plays and discovering fewer and fewer options, a surprising group is being deemed a value proposition: Biotechnology stocks and exchange traded funds.

Rare are the occasions that biotechnology stocks and exchange traded funds are seen as offering value. In fact, the sector historically trades at multiples that are elevated relative to broader benchmarks, but in a year of struggles for biotechnology names, some analysts see value with some big-name biotech stocks.

Investors taking the valuation bet on large-cap biotech could find their way to the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NasdaqGS: IBB), which tracks the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. IBB, the largest biotech ETF by assets, is heavily allocated to the largest biotech names. For example, Amgen (NasdaqGS: AMGN), Gilead Sciences (NasdaqGS: GILD) and Celgene (NasdaqGS: CELG) combine for about a quarter of IBB’s weight.

SEE MORE: BBP – An Outperforming Biotechnology ETF

IBB, which holds nearly 190 stocks and is a cap-weighted ETF, has a price-to-earnings ratio of just over 21 and a price-to-book ratio of 4.92. The ETF’s three-year standard deviation is just over 25 percent.


“We believe that you’re going to see consistent revenue growth, as well as improvement within operating margins over the next three to five years,” said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager with Stifel Nicolaus, in an interview with CNBC.

Biotech ETFs have recently rallied, but that does not mean investors are rushing in. In fact, outflows have hit some big-name biotech ETFs.