November 3, 2015 / 6:56 PM / 2 years ago

Baron Growth fund adds biotechs Atara, ConforMIS to portfolio

NEW YORK, Nov 3 (Reuters) - The $7 billion Baron Growth fund initiated positions in biotechnology firms Atara Biotherapeutics Inc and ConforMIS Inc during a sell-off in biotech companies last quarter, according to a letter to shareholders.

Atara looks attractive because of its T-cell therapy that targets cancer-specific antigens, fund manager Ron Baron wrote. Shares of the company are up 7.6 percent for the year to date. ConforMIS, meanwhile, uses 3D printing technology to develop custom implants for joint replacement procedures and is well-positioned to take market share, he wrote. Shares of the company are up 11.4 percent for the year.

The purchases, which were made in the quarter that ended Sept. 30, came amid a deep decline in the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index that at one point saw the index down 27 percent from the highs it reached in July. The biotech sector bottomed in early October, and is up 7.5 percent over the last month.

With a loss of 0.5 percent for the year through Monday, the Baron Growth fund is trailing the return of the broad Standard & Poor’s 500 index by 4.4 percentage points, a performance that puts it in the bottom 79th percentile among mid-cap growth funds tracked by Morningstar. (Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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