Australian Biotechnology: A 10-Year Study of Investor Performance


  • Peter L. Molloy
  • Lester W. Johnson
  • Michael Gilding



A recent study assessed the investor performance of the Australian drug development biotech (DDB) sector over a 15-year period from 2003 to 2018. The current study builds on that research and extends the analysis to 2020, using a 10-year period starting 2010, to exclude the impact of the global financial crisis in 2008/09. Based on a value-weighted portfolio of all 41 DDB firms, the overall sector delivered a negative annualized return of -4.1%. Individual firm performance was also assessed using the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in share price over the period as a measure of investor outcomes. On this basis 68% of firms produced negative CAGRs over the period, and of the 32% of firms that produced positive CAGRs, six firms produced CAGRs greater than 20% per annum and in three cases of recently-listed firms, the CAGR’s were greater than 50%. Overall however, the sector overall delivered very poor investor returns and despite a relatively large number of listed biotech firms, Australian biotechnology continues to be small and weak in terms of its contribution to global biotechnology industrialization. As such it lacks the critical mass to grow a robust bioeconomy based on drug development, which remains the standard-bearer of biotechnology industrialization.