I'm gonna tell you up front: I don't know squat about biotech. But I do know that my sources, the Street and
are all talking about biotech right now.
That's why I recently got into
Janus Global Life Sciences fund. More times than not, when I start hearing these kinds of rumblings from the folks I talk to, they're right.
Now, before you start screaming at the computer about how that's not
a biotechnology fund, hear me out. Like I said, I don't know much about the sector. I never really came to terms with the whole
thing, and I'm not really sure I know what a human genome is.
That doesn't mean I don't want to play the sector. As a general rule, I don't market-time. I do invest for the long term. But I also want exposure to the hottest areas of the market.
If that means biotech at this point, then Janus Global Life Sciences is the fund for me. While this fund's objective isn't solely in the biotech space like the purer-play
Fidelity Select Biotechnology, this fund has the flexibility to give me the exposure I need, and the smarts to get me the hell out if things go wrong.
Check this out: Last April, when biotech was still languishing, the fund had just 7.7% of its assets in the sector. But by the end of October, when the
AMEX Biotech Index
was up 41.9% for the year, Janus Global Life Sciences had 26.5% of its assets in biomedical and genetic stocks, the largest single-sector allocation in the fund. By the end of December, it had bumped that up again, to 28.8%. Janus, as usual, is keeping its current Life Sciences portfolio under wraps, but you can bet that as the sector's gotten hotter, Janus has gone into the area even more.
Or maybe its 35% return year to date -- yeah, that's right, in the last six weeks -- came from being a generally diversified health care fund. I doubt it, given the fact that pharms, HMOs and healthcare products indices are all pretty much flat since the beginning of January, while biotech is up 34%. I bet the fund's manager, Tom Malley, who's been at Janus since 1991 and majored in -- you guessed it -- molecular biology at
, has been going even deeper into the sector.
The way the mutual fund specialists at
see it, that would only make sense. Emily Hall, the analyst at the fund tracker who follows these funds, says Global Life Sciences' current profile is all Janus.
"Janus funds are focused on growth, and one of the best growth prospects in the health care sector right now is biotech stocks," she says. "So, not surprisingly, the fund has a heavier exposure to biotech names than the typical healthcare fund would."
What's more, Malley runs a concentrated portfolio, with just 39 stocks at the end of October, and 47% of his assets in his top 10 stocks. While that of course means you're open to more risk if a top holding blows up, this narrow, myopic market has rewarded concentrated strategies. And with the Janus fund, you don't have the 3% upfront load that comes from going into Fidelity's Select funds. Janus Global Life Sciences, on the other hand, has a very reasonable 1.11% annual expense ratio.
The fund also has an extremely broad mandate within the health care sector that isn't limited geographically or by market cap. So unlike Fido's Biotech fund, Malley is able to play on smaller and global names poised for growth, something Fidelity Select Biotech hasn't made a habit of, says Hall.
This go-anywhere strategy within health care appeals to me as a way to play the biotech surge. See, for me, in addition to not knowing a whole heck of a lot about the sector, it seems like an awfully thin slice of the market pie to designate as a full-blown sector. To me, it's really a sub-sector of the health care sector that streaks hot and cold. I want to be in for the warm spells, but not the down times. In short, I'm not in it in sickness and health.
I'm not alone in being fickle.
"The nice thing with the Janus fund is that right now, you're going to get some biotech, but you're not bound to it. The fund's fortunes are not directly tied to the sector, though they are closely correlated with it now," Hall says. "I don't recommend biotech funds for a lot of people because it's a very small sub-sector of healthcare."
Me neither. But boy, give me a hot hand in a good general health care fund that makes big bets in the area, like Janus, and I'm there all the way.
Bousquin owns shares of Janus Global Life Sciences, though holdings can change at any time.