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Sequenom Shares Hammered, Affy's Shares Continue Rebound in April

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Stocks in the GenomeWeb Daily News Index continued their rebound for the second straight month, with Affymetrix rising sharply for the second time in as many months. Meanwhile, Sequenom's shares tumbled on the last day of the month after the firm announced that it would delay the launch of its SEQureDx Down syndrome test due to company employees mishandling R&D test data and results.

Following an increase of 10 percent in March, the GWDN Index produced a positive return in April. The gains of March and April followed a terrible February, in which the GWDN Index had fallen 6 percent versus a 12 percent February decline for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The biggest gainer in April among firms in the GWDN Index was Compugen, which rose 65 percent. The Israel-based firm announced at the beginning of April that a peptide it is developing for angiogenesis-related conditions showed inhibitory effects in early testing. Its stock got a further boost last week when it was mentioned by a financial news website among biotech firms that could benefit from the swine flu outbreak.

Four other firms rose more than 40 percent during April — Affymetrix, Caliper Life Sciences, Cepheid, and Pressure BioSciences.

Caliper's shares rose in advance of its first-quarter earnings report last week. The firm's revenues exceed its guidance and grew 11 percent on an organic basis.

Affymetrix's shares also had risen in advance of its first-quarter earnings release. Its stock dropped the following day, after the firm reported a 7 percent increase in revenues and a swing to a loss from a profit. But, the shares have since rebounded, and Affy closed April up 43 percent.

As in March, only eight of the 36 firms in the GWDN Index finished the month down. The steepest decline was for Sequenom, which fell 75 percent for the month of April — and the entirety of that drop came on the last day of the month.

The mishandling of the firm's test data prompted Sequenom President and CEO Harry Stylli to say during a conference call, "This raises significant concerns regarding the integrity of that data."

The firm had previously expected to launch the Down syndrome test in June. But it now will launch the test upon publication in a peer-reviewed journal of the results from the "ongoing large, independent clinical studies," he said.

Sequenom was hit with a series of class-action suits on behalf of company shareholders on Friday. However, its shares rose 14 percent on Friday and were up 1 percent at $4.14 in early Monday afternoon trade on the Nasdaq.

Overall, the GWDN Index closed up around 2 percent for April, compared with a roughly 7 percent increase for the DJIA. The Nasdaq gained around 1 percent and the Nasdaq Biotech Index closed down around 1 percent for the month.


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