It's report card time. I've been going over a year's worth of biotech columns to grade my hits and misses for 2008.

My best call this year was more directional than stock-specific. In mid-February, I reported how the empty rooms and lack of investor interest at the BIO CEO investor conference was a red flag for small-cap biotech stock investing in 2008.

As I stated at the time:
"The reasons are fairly obvious: A nasty stock market and looming threat of recession has put investors in a foul mood. In this atmosphere, risk is most definitely a four-letter word, so there are few institutional investors willing to take on even more by loading up on risky small- and mid-cap biotech stocks."

The situation for small-cap biotech looked bleak then, but I don't think anyone fully knew how bad it would get after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy Sept. 15, causing the whole market to collapse. Many small and early-stage biotech stocks are down 50% to 60% or more in 2008.

Big-cap biotech did offer some measure of protection this year. Generally I was right to recommend Gilead Sciences ( GILD - Get Report) and Celgene ( CELG - Get Report) for most of the year, although both stocks took hard hits in the fall. Being an Amgen ( AMGN - Get Report) bear worked well in 2007, but not so much in 2008, where I wasn't quick or astute enough to pick up the profitable midyear turnaround in the stock.

When it comes to stock-specific calls, I did well with bearish predictions for Elan's ( ELN) Alzheimer's drug bapineuzumab and the prostate cancer vaccine from Cell Genesys ( CEGE). I wasn't a fan of Vanda Pharmaceuticals ( VNDA) and rightly predicted the demise of Myriad Genetics' ( MYGN) Alzheimer's drug Flurizan.

I growled the loudest over Introgen Therapeutics ( INGN) and, finally, the company blew up spectacularly.

Optimer Pharmaceuticals ( OPTR) was a great long pick in the Biotech Select model portfolio, and a short recommendation in Medicines Co. ( MDCO) also worked out very well.

I was early in predicting that ImClone Systems would be bought for $70 a share, although I had no idea the acquiror would be Eli Lilly ( LLY - Get Report).

As for columns and calls I wish I could take back, there was my prediction for a profitable sale of Middlebrook Pharmaceuticals ( MBRK) to some larger specialty pharmaceutical company. That takeout never happened.

I was a big fan of Progenics ( PGNX) based on high hopes for the commercial launch of its bowel drug Relistor. Unfortunately, doctors haven't been as excited about the drug as me.

I boldly predicted the October and December approval of AMAG Pharmaceuticals' ( AMAG - Get Report) iron replacement therapy ferumoxytol. Neither happened, although I believe the third shot at approval early next year will be the charm. Or, so I hope.

Grading that last call will have to wait for next year's report card. Happy New Year!

At the time of publication, Feuerstein's Biotech Select model portfolio was long Gilead Sciences, Celgene and Optimer Pharmaceuticals and short Medicines Co.

Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.