Gene Blues

Delay in the big lab payoff

When stock in Cetus Corp., one of the world's four major genetic engineering firms, was offered to the public three months ago, investors eagerly bought 5.2 million shares at $23, but the price has since declined to $19. Just a half year earlier, shares of competing Genentech jumped within minutes on the first day of trading from $35 to a stratospheric $89. But now Genentech stock is selling for only $37 a share. Has the genie gone out of genetic-engineering companies?

This new industry, which manipulates the genetic code...

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