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Beaten-down biotech shares could see a monster relief rally after Election Day

Beaten-down biotech stocks could be set for a turnaround after Election Day, according to one strategist.

The Nasdaq Biotech ETF, the IBB, is down 21 percent year to date, and down just over 30 percent since hitting an all-time-high last July, but Stacey Gilbert of Susquehanna says a "relief rally" could be imminent.

"The big event, clearly, for the biotech space right now is the election," Gilbert said Friday on CNBC's "Power Lunch."

She noted that if Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton were to win the election and the Democrats were to sweep the House, it could be bad for the biotech space. However, with the likelihood of an all-Democratic house slim, she does expect to see a 3 to 5 percent rally for the group of stocks in the next few weeks.

"If you look at how the biotech sector has been under pressure for, let's say, the past month, you've also seen the probability that the Dems could sweep, increase during this period," Gilbert said. The likelihood of such an event is low, but would give way to a massive pullback — another 9 to 11 percent, Gilbert projects — "on that news alone."

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's remarks about drug pricing in late 2015, regarding Martin Shkreli's Turing Pharmaceuticals, and this year, related to drug manufacturer Mylan's price increase of its EpiPen product, both spurred lags in biotech stocks.

Eddy Elfenbein, editor of the Crossing Wall Street blog, said Friday on "Power Lunch" that Clinton's remarks about regulating drug prices have negatively impacted biotech names.

"It's been a really difficult year for the biotechs — the IBB still a third off its high from 2015, and clearly there's a lot of political risk; people are worried about what would happen with a Clinton victory," Elfenbein said.

"I think in the near term, until the election, there's still going to be a cloud over biotech. However, once we get past that, I think things look pretty good."

Elfenbein noted he likes the IBB "after Election Day" because he likes the valuations in biotech right now, and he predicts actually regulating drug pricing and passing legislation, as opposed to simply speaking about it during the campaign season, is much more difficult.

"Attacking the issue of pricing … it's a popular bumper sticker, but actually attacking the issue is much more complicated," he said.


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Brian Sullivan is co-anchor of CNBC's "Power Lunch" (M-F,1PM-3PM ET), one of the network's longest running programs, as well as the host of the daily investing program "Trading Nation." He is also a frequent guest on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and other NBC properties.

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