Though the stock market has seen wild swings in the past few days, healthcare stock analysts don't expect the recent drops to put a damper on deal activity.
"I don't think [the stock market drop] has been dramatic enough to change the likelihood of deals," said Needham & Co. LLC analyst Mike Matson, who covers medical technologies and diagnostics.
If there's a 10% or 15%-type decline, it could start to change the dynamics, Matson said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Feb. 5 ended the trading session down 1,175.21 points, or 4.6%, and at one point the decline exceeded 1,500 points. Stocks have since rebounded some, though the market action has remained volatile.
"If the market continues to sell off, it could slow things down," Matson said. He said buyers might think, 'Why buy this now if we can get it cheaper in the future?' and sellers might think they are not getting enough, even with the premium relative to where their stock was trading.
Biotech stock analyst Jason Kolbert of Maxim Group LLC said the probability that companies including Celgene Corp. (CELG) and Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) , which he refers to as the "haves," are going to buy technologies from microcap and emerging companies "remains very high."
Gilead, for example, had $36.7 billion of cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities as of the end of December, Kolbert noted.
On an earnings call on Feb. 6, Gilead chief financial officer Robin Washington said the company's capital allocation priorities include "investment in research and development along with M&A and partnerships to augment our pipeline, de-levering our capital structure, continued growth of our dividend over time and share repurchases to maintain our current share count."
Gilead acquired Kite Pharma Inc. in an $11.9-billion transaction completed in October. Then in December, Gilead unveiled a deal to buy Cell Design Labs Inc. for up to $567 million.
The beginning of 2018 has seen plenty of M&A action in the biotech sector, including two deals by Celgene and two by Sanofi SA (SNY) . Celgene on Jan. 7 unveiled its purchase of Impact Biomedicines for as much as $7 billion, including an upfront payment of about $1.1 billion. Then on Jan. 22, Celgene, which has a 9.7% stake in Juno Therapeutics Inc. (JUNO) , said it had agreed to buy the rest of the Seattle immunotherapy company for around $9 billion.
Sanofi, for its part, on Jan. 22 announced its acquisition of Bioverativ Inc. (BIVV) for $11.6 billion. Sanofi followed up that deal with its purchase, announced Jan. 29, of Ablynx NV for approximately €3.9 billion ($4.8 billion).