NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The stocks of DeCode Genetics, Helicos BioSciences, and Vermillion had the worst performances in March among the 36 shares that comprise the GenomeWeb Daily News Index.
In a month when stocks, in general, suffered wild fluctuations due to continuing uncertainties about the economy, most stocks in the GWDN Index lost value. However, the declines for the bottom three performers were particularly hefty. DeCode’s shares dropped 48 percent for the month of March, while Helicos shares tumbled 42.9 percent, and Vermillion fell 40.4 percent.
Early in the month, DeCode disclosed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that it had laid off 60 employees, or roughly 14 percent of its staff, in an effort to conserve cash.
A week later, the firm reported that its fourth-quarter revenues had risen nearly 16 percent, but its net loss had climbed almost 40 percent. The firm is focusing its efforts in 2008 on molecular diagnostic initiatives and expects to provide guidance on diagnostic revenues in the middle of this year.
Helicos’ shares are more volatile than most of the shares in the Index. The firm has been publicly traded for less than a year and its shares are lightly traded relative to many of the firms tracked by GWDN, with an average daily trade volume of around 40,000. Sticking to its trend, Helicos shares were up nearly 24 percent in Wednesday afternoon trade at $7.93.
The firm began the month by announcing the first customer, Expression Analysis, for its Helicos Genetic Analysis System, a single-molecule DNA sequencing platform.
It followed that announcement a week later with its fourth-quarter and full-year 2007 financial results. Helicos’ net loss for the fourth quarter rose nearly 50 percent, as the firm geared up for initial commercialization of its primary product.
Vermillion began the month with a 1-for-10 reverse stock split intended to keep the firm in compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements. But the firm’s woes have continued as it reported in a filing with the SEC earlier this week that it would request a hearing before a Nasdaq panel after it was notified by the stock exchange that it is not in compliance with a separate requirement for continued listing.
Only four firms in the Index managed a double-digit percentage increase in their share prices in March. MDS led all firms with a 16.4 percent gain, while Third Wave Technologies closed up 15.7 percent for the month. Luminex’s shares climbed 12.9 percent, and Bruker’s stock rose 12.6 percent.
MDS said early in March that its first-quarter revenues rose 23 percent, as sales from its Molecular Devices business exceeded its expectations.
Shares of Third Wave shot up in mid-March after the firm said that it will submit data from clinical trials on its human papillomavirus molecular diagnostic tests with the US Food and Drug Administration in April. Less than a week later, it announced that the FDA had cleared its InPlex cystic fibrosis genotyping test.
Overall, the GWDN Index fell 2.45 percent for the month of March. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat with February’s close, the Nasdaq gained .3 percent, and the Nasdaq Biotech Index slipped .4 percent.
While GenomeWeb Daily News covers many more firms than are in the Index, those that have been included have a significant portion of their business focused on molecular biology and cellular research tools and are publicly traded in the US.
GenomeWeb Daily News Index
(March 31, 2008)
|GWDN Index Average||26.87||
* Vermillion’s actual closing price on Feb. 29 was $.53. The number in the Index has been adjusted to $5.30 to reflect a 1-for-10 reverse stock split in early March.