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GenMark, Quidel Pace Decliners as Omics Tools/MDx Stocks Retreat in April

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Many omics tools and molecular diagnostics firms saw their stock prices decline in April along with a general downturn for biotech stocks. 

The GenomeWeb Index, which tracks 31 firms operating in the omics and MDx space, declined more than 3 percent month over month. 

A total of 24 firms in the index suffered a month over month loss in April, while seven companies saw an improvement in shares. Leading the decliners were GenMark Diagnostics (-26 percent) and Quidel (-14 percent), while notable gainers included NanoString Technologies (+17 percent) and Sequenom (+12 percent). 

The drop in GenMark's share price was precipitated by an announcement from the firm in mid-April that the launch of its ePlex sample-to-answer molecular diagnostics platform would be delayed again. The firm had previously said that the system would launch inEuropeat the start of 2015, then later pushed the launch date to mid-year, before delaying it now to the end of this year. The company added that it plans to submit an application to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval of the system in the first quarter of 2016.  

The day after the announcement, investors shed their shares of GenMark, and its stock slid 16 percent. 

In a note, BTIG analyst Dane Leon wrote, "Given that ePlex CE mark and a FDA submission are the main catalysts for the stock this year, the management team will need to provide better answers for the delays than the high-level explanation of 'manufacturing scale-up.'" 

"Until management provides a more detailed explanation [during its first quarter financial results conference call], the stock will feel pressure from concerns that there has been a glitch in the development process more concerning than a slower than anticipated manufacturing scale-up," he added. 

In contrast, there were no obvious drivers to Quidel's share price retreat in April. Its stock fell gradually throughout the month, and its announcement late in the month of a 31 percent year over year increase in its first quarter revenues, and beats on the top and bottom lines of consensus Wall Street estimates, could not reverse the decline.

Other double-digit decliners in April included Fluidigm, Genomic Health, and Pacific Biosciences. 

NanoString, which paced the gainers, started the month by announcing a collaboration with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to develop and test cancer biomarker assays that profile gene and protein expression using NanoString's nCounter Analysis System.

Meantime, Sequenom continued its momentum from March, when its shares improved 13 percent month over month. In April, the company may have benefited from a series of studies published at the start of the month that concluded that in spite of the risk of false-positive results, non-invasive prenatal tests, such as Sequenom's MaterniT21 Plus, outperformed standard first-trimester screening for trisomy 21 detection in all types of pregnancies.

Also, in mid-April, Sequenom researchers published a study in Genome Biology demonstrating whole-genome bisulfite sequencing can help distinguish between placental and maternal circulating cell-free DNA.

The dip in the GenomeWeb Index mirrored the drop among biotech stocks, with the Nasdaq Biotech Index finishing down about 3 percent from March. In comparison, the Nasdaq dropped a fraction of 1 percent, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a fraction of 1 percent during April. 

The stock market took a beating on the last day of April on reports from the federal government signaling slower economic growth in the first quarter of 2015.