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Exact Sciences Leads GenomeWeb Index in January as It Plans Entry Into Liquid Biopsy Market

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – After a flat December, the GenomeWeb Index rose more than 6 percent in January, outperforming the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which gained less than 1 percent, 4 percent, and 5 percent respectively.

There were some new additions — Enzo Biochem, Invitae, NeoGenomics Laboratories, and Veracyte — to the GenomeWeb Index this month, as well as some deletions — Abbott, Alere, Fluidigm, Laboratory Corporation of America, Quest Diagnostics, and T2 Biosystems. This brings the total number of companies in the GenomeWeb Index to 26.

GenomeWeb sister site 360Dx will track Abbott, Alere, LabCorp, and Quest, as well as many others, in its monthly stock roundup. Fluidigm and T2 were dropped for lacking sufficient market capitalization for inclusion in the Index.

Stock performance in the January GenomeWeb Index was mostly positive with 15 of the 26 stocks seeing gains and 11 seeing losses.

Exact Sciences took the top spot in January with a 42 percent gain in share price. After announcing better-than-expected preliminary fourth quarter and full-year 2016 earnings on Jan. 9, the company presented its plans to enter the liquid biopsy market at a session of the 35th Annual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Exact CEO Kevin Conroy said the firm plans to leverage the technology it developed for its Cologuard colorectal cancer screening test to develop liquid biopsy technology, and noted that the company has collaborated with the Mayo Clinic to make significant progress on identifying methylation markers associated with different cancer types that can be analyzed via liquid biopsy using its technology. The firm plans to commercialize the lung cancer assay first early in the second quarter.

After leading the December Index's decliners with a more than 50 percent drop in share price, Pacific Biosciences was January's second-biggest winner with a 27 percent gain. The company's stock cratered in mid-December on the news that Roche had ended the development, commercialization, and licensing agreement between the two companies, but it has been steadily clawing its way back up ever since.

The company recently said it had sold 10 of its Sequel Systems to genomic and bioinformatic services firm Novogene, and noted that at least 57 podium presentations and 60 posters at the International Plant & Animal Genome XXV Conference featured work done on its Single Molecule, Real-Time Sequencing technology.

Illumina came in third on the gainers list with a 25 percent increase in share price. The firm launched a new high-throughput sequencing instrument called NovaSeq at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. The platform makes use of nanofabricated flow cells and specially designed optics that CEO Francis deSouza said would in future iterations enable a human genome to be sequenced for $100.

Meridian Biosciences led the decliners in January with a 26 percent drop in share price. The company reported on Jan. 25 that its first quarter revenues fell 1 percent, due in part to continued weakness in its core diagnostics business. Its Q1 revenues of $46.8 million fell well short of Wall Street analysts' average estimate of $51.2 million.

Natera came in second with a 23 percent decline in January. The company filed a suit against Bio-Reference Laboratories on Jan. 4, claiming that the firm breached a contract with Natera when it launched and promoted a noninvasive prenatal test based on Illumina's technology. Natera then terminated the Bio-Reference deal a week later.

NanoString Technologies rounded out the top-three decliners list in January with a 19 percent loss. The company reported preliminary fourth quarter revenue growth of up to 15 percent on Jan. 10, but its full-year 2016 expected revenues of $85.5 million to $87.0 million fell short of prior guidance of $89 million to $93 million and short of the consensus analyst estimate of $90.6 million.