Biotechs Bouncing Back
Byline: GEOFF FOSTER
BIOTECHS are back. They are looking a lot healthier these days because investors have regained confidence and are returning in droves. News that Celltech has won the race to be the first of Britain's emerging pharmaceutical companies to join the Footsie, gave it another shot in the arm. Some analysts may be getting cautious because they feel valuations look stretched. Dr Sally Bennett at CCF Charterhouse agrees to a certain extent, but says that there is still some mileage left.
US broker Goldman Sachs advised clients to fill their boots with Celltech and raised its target price from [pounds sterling]14 to [pounds sterling]20.50. The shares soared 180p to 16721/2p.
Celltech bought Chiroscience and prescription drugs group Medeva last year, transforming itself from a loss-making research outfit into a biotech giant.
Shire Pharmaceuticals jumped 45p to 1312 1/2p. Capitalised at [pounds sterling]3.2bn, it is the largest company on the Footsie reserve list and should join when Cable & Wireless Communications loses its place after being swallowed by Cable & Wireless and NTL. That deal should be completed by April 19.
Over on AIM, Scottish heart valves maker Aortech pumped 130p higher to 10671/2p. It continues to attract interest after unveiling TruCOMMS, a machine which gives an instant reading of the rate of blood circulation in the body. It recently raised [pounds sterling]17.1m in a placing and open offer to help market the machine.
Up from 20p in November, Medisys advanced 11p to 1471/2p.
The maker of diagnostic and safety products hopes for early US approval for its Futura safety syringe. Rumours of a fundraising and licensing deal continue to do the rounds.
Surgical Innovations, the former Haemocell transfusion equipment group, rose 2 1/4p to 8 3/4p. Punters dosed up on hearing gossip that Shore Capital's Colin Blackbourn was about to buy a strategic stake.
If confirmed, watch 'em go!
Research lab Huntingdon Life Sciences rallied 73/4p more to 273/4p.
Fund manager Phillips & Drew recently sold 31m at prices as low as 1p.
Ofex-listed Biofocus gained 60p to 370p after a major international collaboration agreement with Aventis.
Among the heavyweights, Astra * FORMER clothing maker Horace Small Apparel has hopped on the Internet bandwagon. …