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Stocks of Several Tool Vendors Rose Sharply in First Half of '09

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The stocks of several firms in the GenomeWeb Daily News Index rose sharply — a couple of them rising nearly 400 percent — during the first six months of 2009.

Tech stocks, in general, rebounded somewhat over the past few months after lulls earlier in the year. The GWDN Index, which includes 36 firms in the molecular biology tools and molecular diagnostics fields, rose 16 percent during the first half of the year. Twenty nine of the 36 firms in the Index gained ground during the first six months of the year.

The top gainers for the first half of the year were Compugen (+367 percent), Exact Sciences (+365 percent), Decode Genetics (+181 percent), Rosetta Genomics (+169 percent), Orchid Cellmark (+139 percent), and Bruker (+129 percent). All of these firms' stocks were trading below $5 at the beginning of the year, and Bruker is the only one amongst the group to trade above that level now.

Eaxct Sciences' shares rose early in the year after the firm announced that it had sold to Genzyme certain intellectual property assets related to the fields of prenatal and reproductive health in a deal that is expected to provide the firm with a cash infusion of $24.5 million. In addition, the Marlborough, Mass.-based firm sold to Genzyme three million shares of its common stock for $2 per share. The deal ended Sequenom's bid to acquire Exact Sciences for around $41 million.

Despite posting lower year over year first-quarter revenues in April, shares of Bruker have risen steadily since the beginning of the year.

Another firm of note that had a strong first half was Affymetrix, whose shares are up 98 percent. Affy's shares had a strong spring, as the firm transferred ownership of its Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-compliant lab to direct-to-customer genetic-testing firm Navigenics as part of a strategy to refocus on being a platform provider. It also reported that its first-quarter product and services revenue increased 7 percent year over year.

Of the seven firms whose stock prices decreased from the beginning of the year until June 30, the biggest decliner was Sequenom, which dropped 80 percent. In late April, Sequenom disclosed that it would delay the launch of its SEQureDx Down syndrome test until the third quarter of this year after it discovered that company employees had mishandled R&D test data and results.

That news was immediately followed by the filing of several class action lawsuits against the firm on behalf of shareholders who had purchased Sequenom stock over a roughly 11 month period.

Shares of Celera also were hit during the first half of the year, falling around 32 percent. Its stock dropped more than 20 percent on Feb. 18, after its net loss for the fourth quarter of 2008 missed analysts' estimates by $.01 and the firm forecast lower revenue than analysts expected for 2009.

The GWDN Index's 16 percent gain for the first six months of 2009 nearly matched the rise in the Nasdaq. The Nasdaq Biotech Index, meanwhile, rose around 3 percent through the first half of the year, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 4 percent.

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Myriad's Dec. 31 stock price is adjusted to reflect a two-for-one stock split that happened on March 26.

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