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Broader Markets Lifts Omics Tools and MDx Stocks in March

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A gain in the broader markets lifted shares of companies operating in the omics tools and molecular diagnostics spaces in March following a sluggish February.

In March the GenomeWeb Daily News Index, which tracks 29 firms operating in the omics life science tools/molecular diagnostics space, rose almost 4 percent after being virtually flat during February. The gain was on pace with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq market, each of which rose more than 3 percent in March, but lagged the Nasdaq Biotech Index, which was up more than 8 percent during the month.

Accelerate Diagnostics (+39 percent), GenMark Diagnostics (+24 percent), and Affymetrix (+16 percent) paced the gainers. Shares of Accelerate, which moved its headquarters to Tucson, Ariz., in February, has steadily climbed since the start of the year, and its gain in March came despite reporting a steep year-over-year decline in revenues for the last five months of 2012.

GenMark's jump, meanwhile, came on the heels of the Carlsbad, Calif.-based firm's announcement that its revenues for the fourth quarter jumped more than four-fold year over year. The company also recently filed a $150 million shelf registration.

Affymetrix inked deals last month with UK Biobank and GenoSplice, and said that it, along with Aqua Gen and the Center of Integrative Genomics, successfully genotyped more than 900,000 biomarkers per sample from the Atlantic salmon.

Another notable mover was Life Technologies, whose shares bounced 11 percent after weathering an unfavorable decision by a federal court that Illumina did not infringe three of its patents, as well as a downgrade from Cowen & Co.

Today, shares of the company hit a 52-week high of $66.36 on the Nasdaq before closing at $65.72.

Life Tech also continued to be awash in chatter about a possible sale either to a group of private equity firms or a strategic competitor, such as Roche or Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Nanosphere also rose in the double digits (+12 percent) in March. The Northbrook, Ill.-based company reported it received the CE IVD Mark for its Gram-Negative Blood Culture test that runs on its Verigene molecular diagnostics platform.

On March 28, Agilent Technologies, which rose about 1 percent in the month, issued a $.12 dividend.

The number of gainers last month totaled 20, compared to eight firms whose share prices declined. Vermillion's shares were flat month to month.

The biggest decliners were CombiMatrix (-10 percent), which was notified by Nasdaq that it is not in compliance with a listing requirement calling for a minimum $2.5 million in stockholders' equity, and Exact Sciences (-8 percent), though the reason for the drop in its share price is unclear.

This month Complete Genomics was removed from the GWDN Index following the completion of its sale to BGI.