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Berkeley Lights Q4 Revenues Grow 7 Percent

NEW YORK ­– Berkeley Lights reported on Thursday that its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2021 revenues increased 7 percent and 33 percent, respectively, over the prior-year periods.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2021, the company logged revenues of $23.2 million compared to $21.7 million a year ago and short of analysts' consensus estimate of $25.1 million.

During a conference call recapping earnings, Berkeley Lights CEO Eric Hobbs said the quarterly revenues brought total revenue for 2021 to $85.4 million, above the company's pre-announced range of $84 million to $84.5 million.

Hobbs attributed this growth largely to the company's strategic partnerships, services business, and strong sequential recurring revenue, including consumables and direct placements.

Its net loss for the fourth quarter of 2021 was $17.7 million, or $.26 per share, compared to a loss of $12.1 million, or $.19 per share, in the prior-year period. On average, analysts had expected a loss per share of $.28.

The company's research and development expenses for the fourth quarter amounted to approximately $15.8 million, up from $14 million during the same period last year. Additionally, sales and marketing expenses rose from $4.9 million to $7.5 million, and general and administrative expenses rose from $7.8 million to $10.5 million.

For full-year 2021, the company recorded $85.4 million in revenues compared to $64.3 million in 2020. Analysts, on average, had expected $87.0 million.

Revenue from Berkeley Lights' strategic partnerships and services business grew by slightly more than threefold in 2021 to $19.9 million from $5.8 million in 2020. Key partnerships spurring this growth included several forged last year with Thermo Fisher Scientific, Bayer Crop Science, Aanika Biosciences, and "a top five pharmaceutical company," Hobbs said during the call.

The latter two partnerships, each signed in the fourth quarter, carry a potential contract value of over $8 million, and in the case of Aanika includes potential long-term downstream royalty revenue.

Recurring revenue increased to $19.2 million for the full year, including $6.1 million in the fourth quarter, representing growth of 38 percent and 26 percent, respectively, over the prior-year periods.

The firm's net loss for 2021 amounted to $71.7 million, or $1.08 per share, compared to $41.6 million, or $1.39 per share, in 2020.

Berkeley Lights' research and development expenses for the year rose 19 percent to $58.5 million from $47.2 million in 2020. Sales and marketing costs rose 75 percent to $25.4 million from $14.5 million the year prior, and general and administrative expenses grew 87 percent from $23.2 million in 2020 to $43.4 million last year.

Berkeley Lights finished 2021 with $178.1 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The company reiterated that it expects revenue growth of approximately 30 percent in 2022 compared to 2021, with most growth occurring later in the year.

Strategic partnerships and services are expected to grow faster than other business areas with CROs and CDMOs continuing to be growth drivers.

Other growth opportunities the company mentioned in the call come from having completed the full build-out for the company’s Boston biofoundry and from three key technology developments. These include the cell-free expression of specific proteins in the company’s NanoPen, whose function can be tested against live primary cells; a scalable way to perform terminal assays without any significant loss of live biology; and the application of the company’s T-cell characterization/tumor killing assay to patient samples. 

The company also plans to release rabbit and human memory B cell workflows this year, as well as an on-chip affinity ranking system.

"In 2022, we will continue to drive innovation and expand into new market opportunities," Hobbs said. "Starting with antibody therapeutics, we will continue to deliver and advance our core workflows in both antibody discovery, and in cell line development."

In response to questions about securing access to chips, given the possibility of continuing supply disruptions, the company said that it has secured sufficient chips, including by buying components with chips already installed, to meet demand for 2022. 

Finally, the Berkeley Lights board of directors is currently seeking a new CEO, as Hobbs will be leaving that role to take over as president of the company's antibody therapeutics business.

In late afternoon Thursday trading on Nasdaq, shares of Berkeley Lights were up more than 11 percent at $7.07.