Biotech Class Of 2004

By Charly Travers -- The list of public companies in the biotech universe is constantly churning. Through mergers, acquisitions, and bankruptcies, many familiar names disappear, while dozens of new entrants leap forward through the IPO windows to take their places. I always like a year with a good IPO window, as it gives me new stocks to pore over as I search for winners for Motley Fool Rule Breakers. It's my version of being a football fan on draft day. According to life sciences merchant bank Burrill & Company, there were 37 biotech IPOs in the most recent window covering 2003 and 2004. That's a healthy influx of new blood, as there are only about 300 publicly traded biotech companies in the U.S. A few of these newcomers have already surfaced as winners in a very short period, while several others have wasted little time in disappointing us. Neither extreme should be surprising coming from an industry known for feast-or-famine investment performance. This week, I'll highlight some of the early winners. Keep in mind that many companies out of this IPO window have done well, but I only have space to mention a few. I'll let the companies that have had setbacks toil in obscurity for a bit while working to turn things around. If they are successful in getting on the right track, I'll point them out in the future.

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