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Bears, Wishes, Wise Men and…

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On the last trading day of 1999 there were 14 companies in the Genome Technology Index. By the end of 2000 the population had grown to 33.

But forget for a moment about all the new blood and consider the original 14 — the stocks we spent the year with.

If you had created a portfolio of 100 shares of each on December 31, 1999, and bravely hung on all year, your portfolio — worth $89,837.50 on the eve of Y2K — would have been worth $92,556.15 at the end of 2000 (including the benefit of $28 worth of dividends from Applied Biosystems).

That’s a three-percent return. It certainly beats the 39 percent drop in the NASDAQ Composite, but it also falls well short of the 23 percent gain that the NASDAQ Biotech saw last year.

Your portfolio’s biggest position gain for the year, Applied Biosystems — up $6,809 — would have been more than offset by the other edge of Applera’s sword, Celera, which suffered the year’s biggest position loss of $7,675. Your other big position gainers would have been Qiagen (up $6,288) and Invitrogen (up $2,638). Your big position losers after Celera were Lynx (down $2,338), Affymetrix (down $2,081), and Caliper (down $1,975).

In percentage terms, the worst performers were Lynx, Nanogen, and Celera — all of which saw their positions decline by more than half. Big percentage gainers were Applied Biosystems and Qiagen.

But the biggest percentage gainer of all was the Index’s sole dropout of the year — LJL Biosystems. One hundred shares of LJLB would have cost you $788 at the end of ’99. In mid-2000 you would have swapped them in the merger for 30 shares of Molecular Devices. And those 30 shares of MDCC at year-end were worth $2,053 — a 160 percent return.