At last weekend's TheStreet.com investment conference, I pointed to biotech as one group to watch for a strong recovery in early 2009. I was pleasantly surprised when other contributors also mentioned the sector as a potential winner after the market stabilizes. I guess great minds think alike (subscription required), or at least we're all adrift in the same leaky boat. Let's examine the current evidence and see if a 2009 biotech recovery is really plausible, despite the worst market downturn in decades. If this speculative group is destined to make a comeback next year, logic dictates the slow turn toward higher prices should happen well in advance of the calendar turn, perhaps as early as mid- to late November. First, let's agree Genentech ( DNA) muddies the 2009 outlook, because Roche's contested acquisition distorts the sector indices and exchange-traded funds. In better times, we'd look at this proposed takeover as a positive sign, but no one truly believes the merger will herald a wave of similar activity, given the adverse credit environment. And, although small-cap biotechs are my favorite trades in good markets, I don't expect this segment to lead a recovery next year. It's under massive distribution, with the broad iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index ( IBB) ETF sitting at a five-year low. For this reason I believe that biotech's fate rests squarely in the hands of its biggest-cap components.