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BTIG Initiates Coverage of Berkeley Lights With Buy Rating

NEW YORK – BTIG said on Tuesday it has initiated coverage of Berkeley Lights with a Buy rating and a $70 per share price target.

In a note to investors, BTIG's Mark Massaro said that the Emeryville, California-based firm is emerging as a leader in aiding researchers characterize live cells for accelerating development of biotherapeutics and other cell-based products.

Berkeley Light's platform functionally screens and recovers individual cells for antibody discovery, cell line development, T-cell analysis, and synthetic biology. Its flagship Beacon instrument analyzes live cells by leveraging its proprietary OptoElectro Positioning technology.

Massaro valued the potential market for Berkeley Lights at nearly $25 billion. In contrast to current methods, Berkeley's platform "weeds out" poorly performing cells early on in its workflow, he wrote, allowing for the growth of the best cell candidates, saving time and millions of dollars in costs.

"We believe [Berkeley Lights] can displace a number of fragmented lab methods and consolidate the workflow for the cell-based products market with its Beacon and Lightning platforms," he wrote, adding that the firm's "'razor/razorblade' platforms enable researchers access to single-cell-specific digital information and provides a means for identifying and isolating the best cells used to develop the best therapies to the market much faster and a lot cheaper."

In addition, Berkeley Lights' academic and commercial partnerships "position [the firm] for success as the growing interest in cell-based products gains traction and visibility," he wrote. Customers are also able to access Berkeley Lights' platform through direct purchase or subscription or through a strategic partnership.

In morning trading on the Nasdaq, shares of Berkeley Lights were down 1 percent at $48.64.

The company said last month that it will launch a subscription-based model for its optoelectronic cell analysis platforms.