Why Biogen Idec, Pacific Biosciences of California, and Time Warner Cable Soared Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over daily movements, we do like to keep an eye on market changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

The S&P 500 joined the Dow at new record highs, with the broader benchmark finishing the day above the 1,800 mark for the first time ever Friday. With minimal news, many analysts cited seasonal factors for the gains, but huge advances in Biogen Idec (NASDAQ: BIIB  ) , Pacific Biosciences of California (NASDAQ: PACB  ) , and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC  ) were about more than just holiday cheer. Let's see why these three companies did so well today, to see if we can draw hints about other potential winners down the road.

Biogen Idec rose 13% as the biotech scored a major victory in Europe, with the European Medicines Agency's regulatory body approving Biogen's Tecfidera drug for multiple sclerosis as a "new active substance" on the continent. The designation essentially grants Biogen stronger defenses against generic competitors, including an extra 10 years of patent protection. Given the drug's blockbuster status early in its ramp-up period, Biogen can now move toward launching Tecfidera globally in order to maximize the potential of the game-changing treatment.

Pacific Biosciences of California jumped almost 10%, with a major insider purchase from board Chairman Michael Hunkapiller seen as prompting optimism about the stock. The genetic-analysis area has been an interesting niche in health care lately, as drugmakers look beyond traditional research and development methods to see how genetics can play a role in patient-specific treatment vectors. Even though the stock has struggled lately, investors took Hunkapiller's investment as a sign of a potential bottom for the shares.

Time Warner Cable weighed in with an almost 10% gain as consolidation in the cable industry took a big step forward today. Twin reports suggested that both Charter Communications and Comcast might be interested in buying Time Warner Cable; either union would create a massive company in the space that could potentially dominate its rivals -- at least until they made similar moves to grow as well. Mergers would give cable operators more leverage to negotiate better deals against content providers, but they'd also reduce competition for their customers, giving them a double win but potentially at viewers' expense.

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