The Next Frontier?

No, I’m not talking about Star Trek, though Virgin Galactic and other commercial space ventures are definitely very cool. On a side note, I’m hopeful that in my lifetime we’ll have colonies on the moon.

I’m talking about new advances in medicine…specifically, applications of genomic medicine. The self-described goal: “to make 100-years-old the new 60.”

I recently read articles on Bloomberg and PR Newswire talking about a just launched (and privately funded) DNA-scanning company called Human Longevity Inc. (HLI). It is a “genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending [a] healthy, high performance human life span.” Co-founders include J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Robert Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.

Venter is the guy that raced the U.S. government to sequence the first human genome.

Living a longer and active long life is definitely a goal of mine. I’m trying to stay in good shape now so that I’m still able to do most of the things that I enjoy long into old age.

Living longer brings many issues into consideration. For one, will it mean that either we’ll have to work longer into the historic “retirement” age or invest very wisely in our younger years to have the resources that will last. Having a job you love doing is, consequently, very important. Social security will also have to be completely re-worked as such long lived lives were not built into the original actuarial tables.

But, being an investing blog how best can we take advantage of these new innovations to make money? Why not try to invest in the companies and technologies that are responsible for extending human life?

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) is, unfortunately, currently privately funded so unless you’re very wealthy, I don’t see a good way to invest in the company directly. However, investing in the companies that are playing supporting roles to HLI’s work is an option. HLI recently bought two Illumina HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Systems. Illumina is a gene-sequencing company that is up already more than 250% over the past two years. They have about a 70% market share. Dan Carroll from the Motley Fool, recently discussed Illumina as well as one of its competitors, Thermo Fisher Scientific, in a video, 3 Reasons to Buy 2014’s Most Exciting Stock:

Here’s a chart comparing the stock price of Illumina vs Thermo Fisher Scientific over the last 5-year-period:
Illumina vs Thermo Fisher Scientific

Currently Illumina has a P/E ratio of 187 and Thermo Fisher Scientific has a ratio of 36.4. After looking at their charts, I would have been very happy to have owned either one over the last year or two. Despite their pricey (especially for Illumina) valuation, do either of these companies have room for growth?

I think they do. This summer I’ll be doing more research into these companies, as well as others involved in medical-related technology. While I have historically favored more conservative dividend investing, as witnessed by my recent purchases of LEAPs in WPRT and JCP (which I will write about soon), I am branching some into more growth opportunities as well.

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