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Expand chart
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

Go deeper

7 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

8 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 8 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."