medical research

Never the Same Normal Twice

photo shows the word "normal" highlighted in the dictionary

At the start of 2020, few people could have guessed the whiplash and lasting impact the novel coronavirus has caused. The pandemic has affected each of us in different ways, some minor and some profound.

“The return to normalcy” has been a stated goal for many individuals, leaders, and communities. And different people have different perspectives on the types of costs they are willing to pay in the interest of the return to normalcy.

But what is normal?

Some of you are reading these words on the screen of a cell phone. A few decades ago, this moment would’ve sounded absurd. Our website is available online: 50 years ago, the internet was still firmly in the realm of science fiction. Heck, a century ago, the notion of an electronic programmable computer itself was beyond imagination.

Many things that we take for granted in our lives, it turns out, are hardly “normal” at all: in the big scheme, our everyday circumstances would be new and alien to those who came before us. The routines of our daily lives, the things that feel so comfortable and natural to us, are often a product of a specific time and place in human history.

The oldest among us—just at the edge of living memory—were born in a world that would have found many of our habits and rituals unrecognizable.

Other things, however, they would recognize in an instant. Survivors of the 1918 influenza epidemic would have been keenly familiar with wearing face masks in public and witnessing the ongoing debate about their usefulness and appropriateness. Stories about overcrowded hospitals and overworked doctors and discussions about “flattening the curve” would not have been new (or surprising) to them.

It turns out that not only is our “normal” actually abnormal, but our “abnormal” is more normal than we might think.

Someday, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to close the chapter on this pandemic and our lives will return to normal.

… Which is to say, they will be different, new, and unprecedented. Just like always.

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Pipeline of Medical Miracles?

© Can Stock Photo / Nickondr

Everybody has troubles. If you don’t believe me, just ask them. Among the troubles some people have are chronic or acute medical conditions.
A list of these might include the following:

• Neuromuscular: Parkinsons, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimers, Spinal Muscle Atrophy, neuropathic pain.

• Inflammatory: Crohn’s Disease, IBD, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, pulmonary fibrosis, liver diseases.

• Dozens of forms of cancer, leukemia and other blood diseases.

These conditions have one thing in common. Each one is the target of one or more drug therapies currently in the research pipeline of three established biotechnology companies. These firms seek to discover, develop, manufacture and distribute innovative therapies for people with serious medical problems.

Importantly for us, these three firms are already profitably engaged in the business of distributing past discoveries. The research pipeline represents both hope for people with problems and potential future business. Stock in these firms is trading at below-market multiples of earnings, one of the valuation measures we use to judge the attractiveness of a potential holding. This is no guarantee of future returns, of course.

We believe the future is bright for this industry. But we cannot know which drugs in the pipeline will ultimately be approved as safe and effective. Therefore we cannot know which company’s stock will do best. This is why it makes sense to have a diversified approach – owning shares in a variety of companies.

Clients, if you would like to talk about this investment theme or anything else, please email us or call.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Because of their narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies.

There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.