Market Report: Scotia's calamity highlights decline of the biotech babes

The biotech babes, once the lusty, unstoppable infants of the stock market, are again in danger of being thrown out with the bath water.

Scotia Holdings dealt the latest blow. After the stock market closed on Friday it disclosed the UK health authorities had turned down Tarabetic, a diabetic drug.

Yesterday the once-high flying drug share got its come-uppance, falling 52.5p to 265p. They were floated at 290p four years ago. Since then, they have been as low as 238.5p and, as the biobabes became the market's hot shot sector, as high as 808p.

Like so many of the breed, Scotia has lived on expectation and hope. Losses have piled up with a staggering pounds 19.1m deficit achieved last year. But the blue-sky attitude has faded. Eventually, even in the fledging drug sector, that crude requirement known as profits has to come into the equation. And few biotechs are near to getting out of the red.

Scotia's latest calamity pulled the rest of what is an exceedingly fragile sector lower. Cantab Pharmaceuticals, once 1,072.5p, fell 25p to 640p; Chiroscience, formerly 514.5p, lost 16p to 216p, and Cortecs 14.5p to 169.5p. It once achieved the dizzy height of 875p.

Others hit included ML Laboratories, one of the few in the black, off 4.5p to 82.5p (once 468.5p) and SkyePharma, down 2.5p to 48p against a 287.5p peak.

Biocompatibles International, where dwindling hopes of a US deal has lowered the shares from 1,420p, lost a further 20p to 457.5p after disclosing it expected a higher half year loss.

The big drug groups shrugged aside the problems of the junior faction. Glaxo Wellcome rose 22p to 1,416p and SmithKline Beecham 11p to 618p. Medeva had to contend with cautious comments from Lehman Brothers, ending 6p off at 167p. The securities house, although putting a 300p valuation on the shares, has cut next year's profit estimate to pounds 100.8m but holding this year's at pounds 100m.

The rest of the stock market opened with a flourish of determination to keep alive the Christmas surge which has occurred with near-monotonous regularity in the past two decades.

After notching a 27.9 points gain Footsie faded, ending just 2 lower at 5,018.2. Turnover, considering the festive influences, was reasonably high but the market was largely featureless.

Legal & General, the insurance group, was the best performing blue chip, improving 35p to 515p. A bullish circular, with Panmure Gordon said to be the author, is rumoured to hover; there is also the perennial talk of bid action. Other financials enjoyed support with Schroders 93p higher at 1,895p with some banking on a break up move.

British Steel was a victim of sterling's strength. It fell 6p to 130.5p, not much above its year's low. Engineer Weir lost 5p to 257.5p.

Vodafone had a busy session with vague bid stories running round the wires. The shares gained 5p to 438p.

Thames Water, a casualty of Friday's bloodbath, recovered nearly half its loss, rising 44p to 875p.

Retailers remained in their own land of unfulfilled Christmas dreams. As it become increasingly apparent festive trading would fall below expectations and many shopkeepers had over ordered Kingfisher dropped 18p to 825p and Marks & Spencer 7p to 576p. The Austin Reed offer for Country Casuals pushed the price 11.5p to 132.5p.

Action broke out on the newspaper pitch. Home Counties Newspapers surged 235p to 475p on the Johnston Press agreed pounds 52m offer and Southern Newspapers edged forward 7p to 741p after paying pounds 35m for unquoted Bailey Newspaper Group.

Care First, the health care group, moved ahead 17.5p to 169.5p following the revised Bupa pounds 273m offer. The mbo at Betterware lifted the price 10.5p to 107.5p.

LucasVarity, helped by evidence of US interest, gained 8.75p to 214.5p. Danka Business Systems rallied further to 265p.

Azlan, the computer struggler, added 6p to 54.5p on continuing talk of a Sherwood International strike.

French, a curtain group, tumbled 15p to 37.5p after warning profits would not reach market hopes of pounds 1.1m.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operations Manager

£43500 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Night Shift Operatio...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there