By Meredith W. Salisbury
Since GSAC booth traffic was — how to put this nicely? — on the light side, vendors who found no need for a smooth sales pitch were instead leaning across to chat with their neighbors. A favorite sport during the downtime: speculating on who’s next to fall under the NASDAQ blade.
With stocks dropping precipitously across the industry, it’s no surprise that companies on the GT Index are seeing their share of trouble. Delisting conditions depend primarily on share price and market value; most companies get a warning letter after shares go for less than $1 for at least 30 days. The letter gives most companies a 90-day grace period to get their bid price over the dollar line — sometimes with stock splits, reverse splits, or merger activity — and keep it there for 10 business days to avoid being delisted.
Of the 30 companies on the GTI, seven have 52-week lows below $1, and five more are hovering perilously close. Genomic Solutions, set to be acquired by Harvard Bioscience, broke the barrier in April, followed by InforMax in June, Lynx Therapeutics and Orchid BioSciences in July, Variagenics in September, and Compugen and Deltagen at the beginning of October.
Notably, none of those companies has any problem complying with NASDAQ’s market value requirement. InforMax is nearest the $5 million minimum, and even it has a value of $14 million. Deltagen is highest at $41 million in market conditions that make all of these companies ripe for acquisition. Indeed, InforMax, at least, has seen a number of potential suitors as its stock creeps lower and lower.
Playing close to the edge, Aclara BioSciences, Nanogen, Sequenom, Third Wave Technologies, and Visible Genetics are all far from their 52-week highs and trading within 50 cents of a dollar. Visible Genetics is still on target for its acquisition by Bayer Diagnostics, and Sequenom, down from a year-long high of $11.44, has long been on people’s lips as a promising target for a merger.
With 2003 just around the corner, it seems clear that the landscape of the genomics market will continue changing as M&A becomes more attractive, while fewer companies can actually afford to pursue it. And it also looks like at least a few of our GTI members will be saving some money next year on those listing fees.