Investing is serious work.

If you’re like most people, your retirement won’t be – or wasn’t – secured by your job. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have a pension, that income alone probably won’t take care of all of your expenses in retirement. That’s why it’s critical to invest for the future and to start early.

Once you have your long-term plan in place and you have some extra funds left over, it’s fun to speculate in the market.

[ad#Google Adsense 336×280-IA]When it’s successful, you can make big money… just from a small investment. And usually the companies that you speculate on are exciting and innovative companies.

It’s one of the reasons I love the biotech sector.

Some of these companies make your average speculative stock look like the ultra-conservative Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO).

In other words, many biotechs fly all over the place.

When stocks are down and the biotech sector is getting hit, some small cap names can fall 5% or more in a day.

But when things go right, boy do they ever. A small biotech company with positive clinical trial data on one of its drugs can surge 50%, 75%, even 100% in one trading session.

And for the companies that become successful, the amount of money that can be made is mind-boggling.

For example, Celgene (Nasdaq: CELG) went public in 1990. If you had waited five years after its IPO to buy the stock (I usually don’t like to buy biotech IPOs right away – I prefer to give the company a little bit of time to prove itself), you would have bought the stock at $5.31. Today, Celgene is at $108.98. A 2,000-share investment of $10,620 would now be worth $217,960.

That’s a 1,952% return in 21 years.

There are many other examples.

Biotech has another unique feature. Not only are the potential gains better than in any other sector of the market, but people actually enjoy following the progress of the stocks.

An investor can own a stock like Target (NYSE: TGT) and make some money. But do they really get excited when the same-store sales reports come out every month?

On the other hand, imagine owning a stock like Celldex Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CLDX), which has drugs in development for brain cancer and breast cancer.

Its brain cancer drug Rintega has been shown to increase survival by about 50%. In a particularly aggressive form of the cancer, 25% of the patients on the drug are still alive after two years versus zero of the patients who received the standard of care. There are even a few patients who are alive five years after receiving treatment.

That’s incredibly exciting. And biotech investors are often as jazzed about the medical advances that their companies make as they are about the stock price advances.

I don’t ever recommend you let your emotions be a factor in your investing, but it’s hard not to be happy when you know that the company you invested in will drastically improve or even save the lives of sick patients.

In the Thick of It

Unless you’re reading this late at night Pacific Time, I am probably meeting with a biotech CEO right now.

I’m at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week. It is easily the most exhausting yet exhilarating week of the year. Anyone who is anyone in healthcare and healthcare investing is here.

It’s impossible to get a hotel room, restaurant reservation or even a latte at Starbucks because there are so many men in suits (it’s mostly men) walking around Union Square meeting with companies, investors, potential business partners, etc.

I attend each year and spend the week running from hotel to restaurants to cafés, meeting with CEOs, investment bankers, analysts, hedge fund managers and scientists, learning about new stories, and following up on the companies I’ve been keeping an eye on.

I’ll be writing about what I see and hear at the conference, and letting you know if there is anything you need to be paying attention to in the biotech world.

In the meantime, if you have a little extra play money, I encourage you to get familiar with the sector. You can score some huge profits and may learn something that could help someone suffering from a particular condition or disease.

Good investing,


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