It's day three at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. The crowds are thinning as junior varsity biotech companies take the field. Tomorrow is the conference's final day, when the scrubs get some playing time in front of rows of empty chairs.
The mood here is apathetic. There isn't a lot of panic or even depression over sinking biotech stock prices. No one is predicting the end of the world like in 2008. But when I ask health care investors here how they're feeling, I get a lot of shoulder shrugs.
When I ask them how they're reacting to the weak start to 2016, many tell me they're not doing much of anything. Biotech fundamentals aren't falling apart. There are some compelling biotech stock stories being presented at "JPM16," but why buy now? I'm hearing this a lot.
News and deals fuel the buzz machine at this conference, but both are in short supply this year. Monday's smattering of company announcements weren't market moving; Tuesday and Wednesday have been a news desert.
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF(IBB) - Get Report is off another 2% Wednesday. The ETF is now down more than 14% for the year. The SPDR S&P Biotech ETF(XBI) - Get Report is in a 20% hole this year.
On Tuesday, AthenaHealth CEO Jonathan Bush, on his way to a meeting, helped resuscitate a man who had collapsed on the sidewalk from an apparent heart attack. At a health care technology meeting later in the day, Bush was asked about the incident.
"It was a lot like the health care industry: A lot of people were standing around tweeting about it but not one was trying to do anything about this guy lying on the street. So I was like, 'Turn him the fuck over!,'" Bush said, as quoted in MedCity News.
Biotech stocks need a defibrillator.
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.