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Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Two-thirds of the 68 health care companies that went public in 2019 traded above their IPO price by the end of year — many of which provided huge initial returns to owners and outside investors.

The big picture: The vast majority of health care companies that go public are biotechnology firms. Several of those biotechs in the 2019 class benefited from some promising, but extremely early, clinical trial data.

By the numbers: If you bought an equal amount of shares of every health care company that went public last year and then sold before the calendar flipped, you would have gotten a 47% return on your money.

  • Sixteen companies saw their stock prices double between their IPOs and the end of the year.

Winners: Karuna Therapeutics made the biggest leap, as the biotech company's stock price almost quintupled by the end of the year. Early clinical trial data showed that Karuna's schizophrenia drug relieved many symptoms, Stat reported.

  • NextCure and Turning Point Therapeutics also saw their stocks rise after releasing early-stage drug data.
  • Two medical device firms — ShockWave Medical and Silk Road Medical — and fertility benefits company Progyny were the exceptions to the biotech-heavy list.

Losers: SmileDirectClub, which mails teeth-straightening kits, and a handful of biotech startups like Stealth BioTherapeutics saw their stock prices fall by more than half from their IPOs.

The bottom line: Biotech stocks are notoriously fickle. Poor clinical trial data can derail an entire company, and some of these firms inevitably will fail, given the nature of science.

  • But the initial signals indicate investors still have plenty of money to throw at health care startups of all stripes.
  • Investors also believe many of these biotechs have treatments that will secure federal approval, can be monetized despite broad criticism over high drug prices, and could earn sizable buyouts from larger pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Go deeper: One Medical was one of the first health care IPOs of 2020

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt tests positive for coronavirus

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) announced on Wednesday he has tested positive for the coronavirus and will self-isolate, Tulsa World reports.

Why it matters: The 47-year-old Stitt is believed to be the first governor in the U.S. to test positive. He attended President Trump's rally in Tulsa last month, which the county's health department director said likely contributed to a surge in cases in the region.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 13,357,992 — Total deaths: 579,546 — Total recoveries — 7,441,446Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 11 a.m. ET: 3,432,307 — Total deaths: 136,493 — Total recoveries: 1,049,098 — Total tested: 41,764,557Map.
  3. Public health: Florida's outbreak is getting worse — Testing is again overwhelmed by massive U.S. caseload.
  4. Business: UnitedHealth posts most profitable quarter in its history — Walmart will require all customers to wear masks.
  5. Politics: White House says it didn't clear Navarro op-ed that attacked Fauci.

Walmart will require all customers to wear masks

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Walmart will require all customers to wear face masks beginning next week in all of its 9,000 company-owned stores, in addition to its Sam's Club locations, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: Walmart is the largest retailer in the U.S. and the latest in a string of national chains — including Costco and Starbucks — to mandate masks for customers.