Biotech Survival Index: Boston Life Sciences Companies Brace for Long, Hard Winter

11/25/08Follow @xconomy

Boston is the biggest center of life sciences in the Xconomy network, and by our analysis, the Bay State’s biotech sector is also the best equipped to survive the economic crisis.

I reached this conclusion by combing through public company filings of more than 70 life sciences companies in Boston, Seattle, and San Diego. For all those companies, I asked the two most important questions about their financial health: How much cash does the company have in the bank, and how fast is it burning through it?

The good news for Boston is that it has a lot of companies with a lot of cash. Of the 40 companies that reported quarterly financial results through the end of September, 15 of them had war chests with more than $100 million. A subset of that group—10 companies—are also quite profitable, including Genzyme, Biogen Idec, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, to name a few. By comparison, San Diego has 10 companies with more than $100 million in reserves, and just three companies that are consistently profitable. Seattle has two companies in the $100 million cash club, and just one profitable operation (Sonosite, the ultrasound device maker).

Of course, there’s plenty of misery and anxiety to go around in Boston, too, as you’ll see below. Here’s a rundown of the 40 companies I analyzed, in alphabetical order. It’s not a comprehensive list, so if you’d like to nominate an operation that was left out, please send us a note at editors@xconomy.com.

Abiomed (NASDAQ: ABMD). The Danvers, MA-based medical device company had $50.6 million in cash and investments at the end of September and a $6.3 million net loss in the third quarter.

Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS). This Cambridge, MA-based company burned through about $47 million of its cash in the first nine months, but it still had $425.8 million left at the end of September.

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY). The Cambridge, MA-based developer of RNA interference drugs doesn’t have any products on the market, but it actually has more cash now than it did at the beginning of the year because of partnership deals. Alnylam had $520 million in cash and investments at the end of September, and expects to close the year with more than $500 million. … Next Page »

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