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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Myriad Genetics

And now for an update to the Biotech Stock Mailbag Readers' Portfolio (BSMRP), which is in serious need of a pick-me-up.

One quarter since inception, the BSMRP is down 8% compared to an almost 9% increase in the benchmark iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF. (I tracked performance through the close of trading on March 30.)

Frankly, that's lousy stock picking, my dear readers, especially considering how hot the biotech sector has been this quarter. The cause of the problem is easy to diagnose: The BSMRP is overweight too many high-risk, small-cap biotech stock picks that have blown up.

BSMRP component GenVec (GNVC) is down 54% after a futility analysis forced the company to halt its phase III study of pancreatic cancer drug TNFerade. The GenVec loss is even more painful because the stock had been the best performer in the portfolio with a return exceeding 70%.

The other big losers in the portfolio: Cell Therapeutics (CTIC - Get Report) is down 47% following the negative FDA panel vote for its cancer drug pixantrone; MannKind (MNKD) is down 34% on more approval delays for its inhaled insulin device; and Novelos Therapeutics (NVLT.OB) is essentially a corpse, down 89%, after its lung cancer drug failed a phase III study.

Recall, the BSMRP is a portfolio of 20 biotech and drug stocks chosen by readers of the Biotech Stock Mailbag. The 20 stocks in the portfolio were winnowed from a master list of 93 different stocks nominated by readers in December and January.

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