Flip through regulatory filings for Onyx Pharmaceuticals and you’ll learn that it develops “innovative therapies targeting the molecular mechanisms that cause cancer.” The tiny Richmond, Calif. biotech hasn’t made a dime selling drugs, and red ink is all that lies immediately in the forecast for its bottom line. Still, its proposed drug to treat kidney, liver and other cancers–by blocking certain biochemical signals controlling tumor cell division and the formation of related blood vessels–looks promising. In the past year Onyx shares have rocketed from $7 to a 52-week high of $38.
Finding moon shots like Onyx, which he started buying when it traded in the teens, occupies a good chunk of Kris Jenner’s time. Jenner is manager of the $1.2 billion T. Rowe Price Health Sciences Fund. His qualifications: a summa cum laude bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois, a doctorate in molecular biology from Oxford University and a medical degree from Johns Hopkins. He also completed four years of a surgical residency at Hopkins, where he learned how to keep cool under pressure. “Nothing generates as much emotion as pulsating blood,” he says, recalling the gunshot and stab wounds that found their way into the Baltimore emergency room where he trained.
Jenner, 42, says that his background gives him a much better chance of success than most investors at prospecting for medical outfits, particularly speculative ones whose fate rides on one innovative product. “The complexity or nuances of that evaluation are quite significant,” he says. His investment fever chart bolsters his case. He took over the Health Sciences Fund in January 2000, after a few years as a biotech analyst. For the four years since, it shows a total return of 2.8% annualized, six percentage points higher than the S&P 500.
Jenner says he rarely uses stock screens to find investment ideas; most of the smaller outfits he goes for are off the charts in terms of traditional measures of value. Even Genentech (nyse: DNA – news – people ), a biotech “blue chip” with earnings, sells for a wild 47 times its cash flow (in the sense of net income plus depreciation).
Instead, Jenner bases his decisions on an assessment of the company’s science, the quality of its management and the commercial prospects for its treatments, as well as its valuation.
Full story (reg. required) at Forbes.com
Posted by Gillies on March 29, 2004
WASHINGTON – Two of Congress’ most important items of business are the energy and surface transportation bills. At least one industry has a dog in both fights: the railroads.
Near the top of Big Rail’s wish list for both pieces of legislation is ridding itself of what’s known as the “deficit-reduction fuel tax.” Huh? That might sound a bit ambitious, given that Uncle Sam’s spending this year is expected to exceed revenue by some $477 billion. But industry lobbyists argue, with some justification, that it’s an unfair tax. Provisions to eliminate it are in both bills.
Repeal “has very strong support from both the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance committees,” says Jennifer Macdonald, director of government affairs for the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
The deficit-reduction fuel tax, 4.3 cents per gallon, was enacted in 1990 when the federal government’s accounts were $124 billion in the red. Railroads and trucking companies paid the tax initially, followed by inland barges in 1993 and commercial airlines in 1995.
Two years later, however, airlines and truckers managed to get their portion of the levy diverted into airport infrastructure and federal highway trust funds, respectively. In other words, the taxes they pay are used to benefit them. But barges and railroads, which have no such trust funds, continued to pay the deficit tax, even as the federal budget moved into the black in 1999.
Full story at Forbes.com
Posted by Gillies on March 10, 2004
If there’s money to be made off the powerful force of globalization, somebody like Ivo St. Kovachev ought to be able to make it. The 45-year-old Bulgarian has degrees in technology and business from schools in the Czech Republic and England. He was a Fulbright Scholar in the U.S., speaks five languages and once headed up the foreign investment division of Bulgaria’s state privatization agency. He even fitted in a year in Japan, working for the United Nations. Today he’s based in the Czech capital, Prague, where he picks stocks for Chicago’s Driehaus Capital Management, which he joined in 1996.
Kovachev is one of the three managers of Driehaus International Discovery, a $258 million growth fund that goes after small and medium-size stocks abroad. The other two managers do Asia and emerging markets; Kovachev handles the half of the portfolio invested in Europe.
Among Kovachev’s current favorites is Tele2, a fixed-line, Internet and mobile communications outfit based in Stockholm that operates in 22 countries,including Portugal and Russia. Its revenues, $4.8 billion for its latest 12 months, have grown at a 49% annualized clip for the past five years.
The company–not so medium-size anymore–and its shares, listed in the U.S. as American Depositary Receipts, have more than doubled in the past 12 months. They sell for 1.7 times sales and 50 times trailing earnings, versus equivalent multiples of 0.4 and 8.2 for AT&T. Kovachev isn’t deterred. “Internet penetration in Europe is on average lower than the U.S.,” he says, “so this is a secular growth story, and it should continue to do well.”
Full story (reg. required) at Forbes.com
Posted by Gillies on March 1, 2004