Top Ways to Trade the Biotech M&A Boom

Some of the most explosive opportunities can be found in biotech.

For one, the sector is still one of the safest, most recession-proof investments around.   Two, an aging population is demanding better treatment in an effort to live longer lives. Three, there’s incredible new innovation in gene therapies, weight loss, immuno-oncology, precision medicine, machine-learning drug discovery, and treatments for unmet medical needs.  

Look at gene-editing stocks, like CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP), for example. 

Leading up to its US FDA advisory panel meeting, and its Dec. 9 US FDA PDUFA date, the stock exploded from a low of about $27.50 to a high of $75 in anticipation. 

Even better, it looks like biotech M&A is catching fire again.

According to Barron’s, “Biotech deals are heating up as the year comes to an end, and analysts say the hot streak will likely continue in coming months. That could portend a rebound for the biotech sector, which has performed abominably in recent years.”

In recent weeks, AbbVie said it would buy Cerevel Therapeutics for $8.7 billion. A week earlier, it said it would acquire ImmunoGen for $10.1 billion. Even Roche Holding just announced it would acquire Carmot Therapeutics for $2.7 billion.

But this is just the start. 

As also noted by CNBC, “The large-cap biopharma companies have plenty of dry powder: According to RBC, they will have roughly $199 billion in cash by the end of the year. Dividends and stock buybacks, the RBC analysts wrote, are trending down, which could imply a focus on M&A.” In short, the excitement in biotech is red-hot.

And while investors can always try to pinpoint the next acquisition target, biotech funds may be the safer alternative with solid diversification at a low cost.

Here are three funds that could push even higher on the potential M&A boom. 

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI)

One of the best ways to diversify at less cost is with a biotech ETF, such as the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI).  With an expense ratio of 0.35%, the ETF offers exposure to the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index. Some of its top holdings include Biogen, Veracyte, Moderna, Gilead Sciences, Amgen, and VIr Biotechnology to name a few. The ETF seeks to provide investment results that, before fees and expenses, correspond generally to the total return performance of the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index.

ProShares Ultra NASDAQ Biotechnology (BIB)

With an expense ratio of 0.95%, the BIB ETF seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, that correspond to two times (2x) the daily performance of the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. Some of its top holdings include Compass Pathways, Cara Therapeutics, Inovio Pharmaceuticals, C4 Therapeutics, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, and dozens more.

iShares Biotechnology ETF (IBB)

With an expense ratio of 0.44%, the IBB ETF tracks the investment results of an index composed of U.S.-listed equities in the biotechnology sector. Some of its top holdings include Gilead, Amgen, Moderna, Biogen, Seagen, Illumina, and dozens more.

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