Sales figures released Monday by the major automakers reinforce the gloom surrounding the industry.

For 2008, U.S. sales at Chrysler L.L.C. were down 30 percent, while sales slid 23 percent at General Motors Corp. and at 21 percent at Ford Motor Co. There was a lot of pain to go around, even among the top Japanese automakers.

Except for Philadelphia's homegrown brand - Subaru of America. The tiny company eked out a 0.3 percent increase in sales over 2007.

At 187,699 total vehicles sold last year, Subaru is no GM, which cranked out nearly 3 million vehicles in the U.S. Ford sold more of its Focus model of small cars (195,823) in 2008 than Subaru did of its entire line.

But any automaker would be thrilled with a vehicle that saw 36 percent rise in sales as Subaru's best-seller, the Forester crossover SUV, did between 2007 and 2008.

Cherry Hill, where Subaru has been based since 1968, won't remind anyone of Detroit. But for now, the South Jersey town can brag it's home to the only automaker to sell more cars, not fewer, in 2008.

Burrill on biotech

Biotechnology is still the promise of the pharmaceutical industry, but the immediate future isn't very bright.

Investment banking firm Burrill & Co. says that about 100 of the 350 publicly held biotech firms could disappear by the end of 2009. What a big reversal for an industry that's attracted billions of dollars in recent years.

Many biotech firm are struggling to raise capital to support their research and development, Burrill says in its annual forecast.

Public markets are also frigid. CEO G. Steven Burrill had predicted last year that 30 initial public offerings would get done in 2008. Only one was completed before the window slammed shut.

A recent survey by KPMG L.L.C. of more than 300 Philadelphia-area venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and advisers also sees few IPOs generally on the horizon. But given the concentration of life-sciences firms here, KPMG says the sector is still expected to sop up much of the venture money that will be committed locally.