This commentary originally appeared on Real Money Pro at 9:00 on Sept. 22. Click here to learn about this dynamic market information service for active traders.
The market rebounded somewhat yesterday from last week's decline after the Federal Reserve's decision once again not to raise interest rates. But one group that did not participate in the rally was the biotech sector, which posted its worst daily performance in 2015.
The trigger for the large pullback was a tweet from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton about price gouging in the industry in response to Turing Pharmaceuticals' decision to hike the price of its standard-of-care drug for toxoplasmosis infections, Daraprim, by some 5,000%.
A few observations about yesterday's incident and the downdraft in the biotech sector. First, it shows terrible public relations awareness by Turing's CEO. Second, most of the so called "gouging" applies to a narrow part of the drug market, particularly to orphan and specialty compounds. Third and most importantly, this did not change the economic dynamic for the sector at all.
We are getting close to the so-called "silly season" before an upcoming national election, when politicians gear up to get their base to the primary polls to be their party's standard bearer in the 2016 election. Given that Clinton is being unexpectedly challenged by a self-described socialist, it is hardly surprising she is throwing out some populist tripe, and hoisting the soaring cost of health care flag is a long-time staple for the left.
If Clinton does end up garnering the nomination, she will in all probability try to tack back to the center before the general election and this attack on drug costs will lessen if not go away completely.
In any case, even if Clinton is elected she will face an opposing force, as Republicans will control the House of Representatives and likely the Senate as well. Given the rancor on how Obamacare was crammed down their throats, does anyone think any additional efforts to inject even more government into the private health care market will go anywhere with the Republican opposition?
I am not just picking on Clinton, Republican front runner Donald Trump is also throwing out items he would do as president. Most are deliberately vague and several have absolutely no chance of happening unless we are going to change the Constitution.
The election is a long way away and it is possible neither Clinton nor Trump will even be on the ballot when November 2016 finally arrives. Regardless, it is a moot point as this sort of "noise" is part of every election campaign. I can pretty much guarantee that four or eight years from now investors will see an escalating stream of nonsense from candidates that will temporarily hit certain sectors of the market, but rarely, if ever, actually result in significant policy changes.
So, biotech investors should relax and continue to build a well-diversified portfolio. I bought a few more shares of Gilead Sciences (GILD) and ANI Pharmaceuticals (ANIP) in yesterday's decline. Both companies delivered good news Monday for investors that was overlooked thanks to a well-publicized tweet. Welcome to the social media-driven, 24/7 market!
A bigger worry to me is what this deep selloff in one sector, caused by what will ultimately turn out to be a non-event, says about the fragility of the overall market. If an investor wants to worry about something, that would be a more appropriate cause of concern.