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Fluidigm Q4 Revenues Grow 38 Percent on COVID-19-Driven Microfluidics Growth

NEW YORK – Fluidigm reported after the close of the market on Wednesday that its fourth quarter revenues increased 38 percent year over year as COVID-19 testing demand drove sales of the company's microfluidics products while the firm's mass cytometry business continued to recover from the early months of the pandemic.

Separately on Wednesday, Fluidigm said that George Mason University has begun providing campus-wide saliva-based COVID-19 testing with the firm's Advanta Dx SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR assay on the Biomark HD microfluidics system.

In addition, the company said it has signed a supply and distribution agreement with Zhejiang PuLuoTing Health Technology (PLT Tech) to market Fluidigm CyTOF technology, panels, and reagents to clinical labs in China.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020, Fluidigm tallied revenues of $44.6 million compared to $32.4 million a year ago, falling short of analysts' consensus expectation for $50.7 million. It was also the highest quarterly revenue in the company's history.

Instrument revenue fell 6 percent to $14.9 million in Q4, while consumables revenue jumped 79 percent to $19.5 million. Fluidigm also reported $6.1 million in service revenues, up 13 percent from a year ago, and $4.1 million in other revenues compared to $350,000 in prior-year period.

Microfluidics-related revenues increased 98 percent in Q4 to $21.0 million, while mass cytometry-related revenues fell 9 percent year over year to $19.5 million but grew sequentially for the fourth consecutive quarter.

In a conference call recapping the company's earnings, Fluidigm President and CEO Chris Linthwaite noted that microfluidics revenue grew 89 percent from COVID testing alone, and the firm sold 2.2 million COVID tests in the past six months.

"We believe COVID testing represents a 5- to 10-year market opportunity [where] high levels of testing are required in concert with vaccination, and the testing should be maintained for national surveillance, as well as industries such as travel," Linthwaite said.

Fluidigm's Q4 net loss swelled to $18.0 million, or $.24 per share, from a loss of $12.7 million, or $.18 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted loss per share of $.13 came in below analysts' expectation of $.07.

Fluidim's Q4 R&D spending jumped 35 percent to $11.2 million from $8.3 million a year ago, while its SG&A expenses grew 70 percent to $31.9 million from $18.8 million.

Linthwaite noted in the call that the company is focused on "accelerating market adoption of both microfluidics and mass cytometry [by] diagnostics and healthcare-oriented labs."

"We are incorporating the lessons we learned from COVID and applying them to a broader spectrum of diseases," Linthwaite added. "We have many options for growth, and we will be selective in the areas we pursue with our resources. We expect the long-term growth rates of both of our franchises to exceed 20 percent with a $12 billion to $15 billion immediately addressable market in molecular diagnostics, complementing our existing approximately $3 billion market opportunity."

For full-year 2020, Fluidigm's revenues increased 18 percent to $138.1 million from $117.2 million in 2019 but fell short of analysts' expectation of $144.3 million.

Instrument revenue fell 9 percent to $45.5 million in 2020, while consumables revenue grew 20 percent to $54.4 million. Service revenue increased 6 percent to $22.6 million, and Fluidigm logged $15.6 million in other revenues, up from $550,000 in FY 2019.

Full-year microfluidics-related revenues increased 39 percent to $60.4 million, while mass cytometry-related revenues fell 15 percent to $62.1 million.

Fluidigm shaved its net loss in 2020 to $53.0 million, or $.74 per share, from $64.8 million, or $.97 per share, in 2019. On an adjusted basis, its 2020 loss per share was $.30, besting analysts' consensus estimate of a loss per share of $.55.

The company finished 2020 with $68.5 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Fluidigm said that it expects product and service revenue of $140 million to $150 million, or approximately 14 percent to 22 percent year-over-year growth in 2021, with an adjusted net loss of $17 million to $21 million. For the first quarter of 2021, Fluidigm expects product and service revenue of $29 million to $31 million, or 20 percent to 29 percent year-over-year growth. Total Q1 revenue is expected to be between $30 million and $33 million.

Regarding its deal with George Mason University, the school has purchased two Biomark HD systems and has equipped labs on its Science and Technology Campus in Manassas, Virginia, to initially process up to 10,000 Advanta Dx assays per week. Fluidigm received US Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization for the test in August.

Meanwhile, under the agreement with Zhejiang PLT Tech, the partners will collaborate to seek National Medical Products Administration approval for a CyTOF instrument for diagnostic use in China.

"We have seen increasing customer demand for CyTOF analysis in recent years from academic and medical centers engaged in translational research," PLT Tech CEO Hongyu Shi said in a statement. "We are excited for the opportunity to work with Fluidigm toward a CyTOF instrument that is approved for clinical use in China. As part of the development plan, we intend to acquire three CyTOF instruments over the next two years. Our initial focus will be panel development focused on blood cancer diagnostics, particularly those affecting children, and on prognostic evaluation of immunotherapy."

In Thursday AM trading on the Nasdaq, Fluidigm shares were down around 20 percent at $5.66.

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