2016 has been a tough year for the biotech sector, as drug pricing became a very popular topic among politicians and media outlets, which dubbed many of the industry’s practices as “price gouging”. Controversies around Mylan NV (NASDAQ:MYL) and Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) were among the most notable in a series of cases that galvanized the public. However, the past few months have seen many stocks rebound from their February and/or May lows. In this article we’ll take a look into five biotech ETFs and the institutional support they count, which could be seen as a proxy of how bullish hedge funds are regarding a continuation in the sector’s rebound over the coming months.
At Insider Monkey, we track more than 750 hedge funds, whose 13F filings we analyze as part of our small-cap strategy. Our research has shown that imitating a portfolio that includes the 15 most popular small-cap stocks among hedge funds can outperform the market by as much as 95 basis points per month on average (see more details).
Let’s start with the Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3X Shares (NYSEARCA:LABU) ETF, which provides daily 3-times leveraged exposure to the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index (INDEXSP:SPSIBI), and is rebalanced after every trading day. This makes it more convenient for short-term investors. While the ETFs year-to-date performance has been very poor, losing more than 58% of its value, its returns over the past four months have been quite strong, as the ETF has gained 6.9% since June 27.
Only a few funds among those that we track were long Direxion Daily S&P Biotech Bull 3X Shares (NYSEARCA:LABU) at the end of the second quarter. The only noteworthy position among them was that of Ken Griffin’s Citadel Advisors, which held 23,781 shares of the ETF valued at $671,000 on June 30.
Next up is the ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (NYSEARCA:SBIO), which tracks the performance of the Poliwogg Medical Breakthroughs Index (INDEXNYSEGIS:PMBI), which comprises small-cap ($200 million-to-$5 billion in market cap), U.S.-traded biotech companies that have at least one drug in Phase II or Phase III FDA clinical trials. Same as its peer above, the ETF had a troubled year, losing more than 25% of its value. However, even though it has slipped by 5.16% over the past month, its returns since June 27 also stand at 6.9%.
As of the end of the second quarter, none of the funds that track held a significant position in the ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (NYSEARCA:SBIO). In fact, institutional support was not very large in general, with less than 30 13F-filing firms long the ETF on June 30.
We’ll check out three other biotech ETFs that have enjoyed a strong second-half of the year on the next page.