Biotechs Rally to Record on Vaccine Distribution, Deal Optimism

Drug developers of all sizes rallied Monday amid the first U.S. deployment of a Covid-19 vaccine and on the heels of the industry’s biggest takeover this year.

The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, a barometer for the sector, jumped 4.1% to a record high as enthusiasm for the industry spread. Rare-disease specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. soared as much as 32% after striking a deal to be sold to AstraZeneca Plc while gains for the industry spread to other potential takeout targets of varying sizes.

News of the approval and the rollout of Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE’s coronavirus shot sparked a global equities rally as the AstraZeneca deal further invigorated biotech stock pickers. Notable outperformers in the biotech index ranged from Arvinas Inc., which presented positive data of its own, to Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc., Argenx SE, and Incyte Corp. all of which Wall Street is betting on as potential acquisition targets as deals pick up.

Biotechs Rally to Record on Vaccine Distribution, Deal Optimism

Monday’s rally showcased the unquenched demand for investors seeking the next takeout as well as optimism that the rapid advancement of therapies and vaccines to combat the pandemic lifted the hood on future therapies and technologies. Despite valuations that may appear stretched, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote that a survey for the first half of next year showed investors remained optimistic on the industry and that a majority expect it to outperform the broader market for the first six months of 2021.

Also outperforming were smaller drug developers that have yet to bring a medicine to patients like Rubius Therapeutics Inc. and Homology Medicines Inc. Amicus Therapeutics Inc. and Global Blood Therapeutics Inc., which have single commercial medicines, also gained.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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