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Illumina Cites Rising Revenues in Q3 Report: Interim Luminex CEO Discusses Strategy Shift


Under the harvest moon, the quarterly day of public bead counting came for firms Luminex and Illumina last week. Luminex of Austin, Texas, still waiting to reap financial benefits from its partnerships and under interim management, said it was refocusing on marketing while Illumina of San Diego, reporting a slight increase in revenues from its SNP services collaborations, said nothing.

Luminex Gets Aggressive in Marketing

“There aren’t any quick fixes,” Thomas Erickson, interim CEO of Luminex, said last week during his first quarterly conference call at the helm of the bead-based bioassayer.

Luminex reported revenues of $3.6 million in revenues for the third quarter, which where slightly more than half of the $6.2 million in revenues it reported for the third quarter in 2001. Still, they were an increase from the $3.2 million reported in the second quarter.

Erickson spoke briefly to introduce himself and said he was six weeks into a six-month employment contract, with his first responsibility being to find the right CEO to replace him. Erickson, 51, came to Luminex after a term as interim president and CEO of Maryland-based Omega Healthcare Investors. He replaced co-founder Mark Chandler who left Luminex to launch RBM, a spinout based on the company’s rules-based medicine project. RBM uses Luminex’s xMap bead assay technology to search for protein biomarkers for 55 different diseases.

In the quarter, Luminex took a writedown of $1.8 million on the sale of RBM — $200,000 for legal fees and other costs, and $1.6 million to pay stock compensation costs, CFO Harris Currie said.

The spinout, which the com- pany said it did in order to concentrate on its core technology, is illuminative of Luminex’s strategy of entering partnerships with companies that create applications for its bead array technology. Among 20 partners, it lists MiraiBio, Bio-Rad, and Qiagen as its partners in research and drug discovery and Orchid in clinical diagnostics. Thus far, this partnership strategy has all the dynamics of a single-employee piano-moving company.

“The delays in commercialization of our partners and the resulting slower-than-anticipated product rollouts and placements continue to affect our results,” Currie said.

Erickson meanwhile did not whitewash his description of Luminex’s market approach.

“As our sales reflect, I believe that proper focus was lost and that we did not properly position and price our products by segment and we didn’t staff our sales efforts to capitalize,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”

He said Luminex is being transformed from a science-driven company attempting to capitalize on the market to a market-driven company based on science.

The actions the company said it would take indicate a move to monetize what technology it has in its warehouses instruments, consumables and beads.

“We are attempting to capitalize on market needs,” Erickson said.

The company sells systems that include the Luminex 100 lab analysis system — which at a suggested price of $49,000, includes the compact analysis system, a 96 well-plate handler, and the sheath delivery system — as well as reagents such as Luminex microspheres and sheath fluid. Prices vary as the system is made up of components.

The company said it sold $1.7 million in instruments in the quarter, and $1.3 million in consumables. It delivered 67 instrument systems, up over 60 in the second quarter, selling them at an average price of $26,000. The company has an installed base of 1,173 systems.

While operating at a loss of $5.5 million for the quarter, the company reported that it had reduced its cash burn rate to $1.5 million for the quarter, down from $5.7 million in the second quarter. Luminex has $40 million in cash and equivalents and a market capitalization of nearly $200 million.

Illumina Says OK to Oligos, Bead Services

Illumina increased its revenues in the third quarter, reporting $3 million last week, up $2.3 million from the mere the $700,000 in revenues it reported for the third quarter of 2001. In the second quarter, the company reported $1.9 million in revenues.

This steady revenue upsurgecame as a result of growth in the company’s high-volume Oligator oligo sales and marked initial revenues from its industrial-scale genotyping services, which use its microarray bead technology These are the two main prongs of the company’s business.

Illumina has a market capitalization of $130 million. It raised $103 million in its IPO in July 2000.

Illumina executives were not available for comment.


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