Stocks in companies with a stake in nanotechnology started the year with a bang — although prices fell back a little in February, along with the rest of the market.
The Lux Research nanotechnology index tracks a mixture of companies that sell nanotechnology equipment and products based on nanotechnology, as well as some larger corporations that expect to make use of the technology.
Peter Hebert, president of Lux Research, says that companies performing well so far this year include Nanophase Technologies, an Illinois-based company that makes nanocrystalline materials. Nanophase is one of the oldest companies in the sector, having originally listed on the Nasdaq in 1997, and it has had a turbulent history. But this year its stock rose from $5 to about $7 after news that it is finally managing to sell to customers in the chemicals industry, including BASF.
Other strong performers so far in 2006 include Altairnano, a Nevada materials firm whose stock price has almost doubled since the beginning of January, and Arrowhead Research of Pasadena, California, which invests in start-up companies.
It has been a less happy couple of months for Accelrys, a San Diego-based computer-modelling company whose shares lost about a quarter of their value after the Securities and Exchange Commission asked it to revisit its 2005 accounts.
But Hebert says that, overall, interest in the nascent industry sector is strong: “Industrial corporations are getting more and more active” in nanotech, he says.