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Biotech Buyouts

I can imagine that a few people were waiting for President Obama to follow up his declaration that he was opening up the East Coast shelf for oil drilling with a hearty “April Fools!” but he didn’t.   

 

It’s for real.   

 

The decision to open up the East Coast shelf is sure to anger some people. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was adamantly opposed to drilling off of Florida’s coast, even when his brother George pondered the idea. He felt that oil drilling might spoil Florida’s beaches and impact tourism.   

 

I don’t know how current governor Charlie Crist feels about offshore drilling, but there will be plenty of vocal opposition. Imagine the irony as both environmentalists and conservative politicians lambaste Obama for this decision to open up oil drilling!  

 

Some are already expressing the opinion that Obama is setting the stage to bring the Cap and Trade plan for carbon emissions back into the conversation.   

 

Personally, I hope that doesn’t happen. It may be an admirable goal for the U.S. to move away from polluting forms of energy like coal, but the reality is that the U.S. is dependent on coal. And coal use is growing. As Americans turn to the grid for cheaper energy (like transportation) it means more coal is burned.   

 

Energy World Profits’ economist Gregor Macdonald says that the cost advantage of coal will mean that the world will shift back to coal. In fact, Gregor states that the world will produce more energy from coal than with oil as soon as 2012. (That’s why the coal stock in the Energy World Profits portfolio is up 18% with more on the way.)   

 

Cap and Trade is a punitive way to go about reducing carbon emissions. And because so much of our infrastructure here in the U.S. is built for coal, there’s no ready alternative for many companies.  

 

What’s needed is a cost-effective way for coal to be replaced by natural gas. Natural gas is plentiful, inexpensive and burns cleaner than coal. But strangely, it is ignored as a transition fuel by the Obama administration. Plenty of natural gas CEOs are scratching their heads over this.  

 

During Obama’s press conference yesterday, he introduced us to a military fighter plane that will be the first ever to be fueled by biomass. That’s neat and all, but biomass is an inefficient energy source.   

 

With corn, for instance, for every unit (1) of input, you get between 1.3 and 1.7 units of energy. That’s not very efficient. In fact a Cornell Study from 2005 concluded that turning corn into fuel requires 29% more fossil fuel than the resulting ethanol replaces.   

 

(Many like to point to Brazil as an ethanol market that works. But there are big differences. Brazil’s ethanol is produced from sugar cane, was has an 8-to-1 efficiency. Plus, Brazil has a 12-month growing season for sugar cane.)  

 

Bottom line: why doesn’t that plane run on natural gas?   

 

I suspect one of the reasons some investors have had difficulty getting on board the recent rally is the lack of catalysts. There’s no tangible reason for investors to get excited about stocks.  

 

In 1998-2001, there was the proliferation of the Internet to get investors excited. In 2004-2007, commodities and the growth of China fired investor’s imaginations. Now, there’s just the recovery story. And that’s getting old.  

 

Of course, you could point to smart phones. That’s been great for Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL), Research in Motion (Nasdaq:RIMM) and some semiconductors like Marvell Technologies (Nasdaq:MRVL) and Broadcom (Nasdaq:BRCM). But it’s still a narrow rally.   

 

Coal stocks have moved, but the potential for Cap and Trade has dampened the move. And besides, nobody likes coal.     

 

Oil is hitting new highs, and yet everyone still (wrongly) believes that oil prices supply/demand imbalances will lead to a plunge for oil prices any day now. 

 

Retail has done well, but there’s no excitement due to the high unemployment rate.    

 

Buyouts and partnership deals in the biotech space have been going gangbusters, and no one seems to think it’s significant. So they’ve missed nice moves by Intermune (Nasdaq:ITMN), Facet Biotech (Nasdaq:FACT), OSI Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq:OSIP) and  Isis Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ISIS).  There will be more…

 

In his latest Special Opportunity Report, TradeMaster Daily Stock Alert’s Jason Cimpl identified 5 biotech stocks that could run 62% to 458% as the buyout trend accelerates. Click HERE for details.