Booming Gilead gets a blueprint for a big new HQ addition

Gilead ($GILD) isn't finished booming. The big biotech has just scooped up an extra 12-acre complex in its home town of Foster City, CA. And the central view comes with room enough for an extra 800,000 square feet of space to accommodate a fast-growing staff.

The developers of the site struck an agreement with local officials last year to expand on the parcel. Gilead, which makes a point of never explaining or complaining, has remained customarily tight-lipped, notes the hometown newspaper, The Daily Journal. The Journal reports that Gilead paid $120 million for the central location.

Gilead had 5,000 staffers at the end of 2012 and 6,100 a year later, according to its SEC filings. By the end of last January, the full-time head count had grown to 7,000. The company has been doing a makeover of its Foster City campus, razing old buildings and constructing 17 new ones. And just last spring the company said it would add researchers and other staff as it doubled down on its development plans in Alberta, Canada.

Gilead is a prime example of an explosive growth biotech, one of several which have been offsetting big layoffs at giants like Amgen ($AMGN) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). The company's fortunes were built around its blockbuster suite of HIV drugs, but the approval of its new drugs for hepatitis C--which have revolutionized the way hep C is cured--has added much, much more to the bottom line.

The big biotech has been a lightning rod for critics, though, pricing its therapies in a way that drew an outraged response from patient groups and physicians and prompted payers like Express Scripts ($ESRX) to start playing hardball in formulary negotiations. None of that, though, has blunted its meteoric growth.

At last count, Gilead's market cap rests at $155 billion. And it clearly wants a headquarters campus that reflects the company's global domination in select drug markets.

- here's the report