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GenomeWeb Index Up 13 Percent in July as Investors Cheer COVID Dx Development

NEW YORK – The GenomeWeb Index rose nearly 13 percent in July, as investors once again sought to reward companies that seemed to be making significant developments with their SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics.

The index outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which rose 2 percent, 7 percent, and nearly 2 percent, respectively. Individual stock performances in the GenomeWeb Index were overwhelmingly positive in July, as 28 of the 32 stocks saw gains and only four saw losses.

Fluidigm led the gainers with a 76 percent increase in stock price, while Veracyte (+38 percent) and Quidel (+26 percent) came in second and third.

Adaptive Biotechnologies led the decliners in July with a 23 percent drop in stock price. CareDx (-6 percent) came in second, followed by Invitae and Natera, who saw their stock prices drop 4 percent each. Invitae had led the gainers in June with an 80 percent increase in share price.

Fluidigm's shares rose at the beginning of July when the National Institutes of Health said it had launched a clinical trial to generate immune profiles of adults hospitalized with confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 using Fluidigm's mass cytometry platform and its Maxpar Direct Immune Profiling Assay as one of the primary technologies for the study.

At the end of the month, the NIH also said that Fluidigm is one of seven companies that will receive a contract under the agency's Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, providing support for a range of new lab-based and point-of-care tests for the detection of SARS-CoV-2. Fluidigm said it will receive $37 million from the NIH to further develop its BioMark HD microfluidics platform for this application.

Veracyte, meanwhile, signed a deal with MaviDx to develop ultra-high throughput genomic testing for SARS-CoV-2 on Veracyte's nCounter diagnostic platform. The assay will detect and quantify SARS-CoV-2 copy numbers from nasal or throat swabs using the nCounter system.

And despite reporting that Q2 revenues fell 31 percent year over year, the company beat the Wall Street consensus estimate on the top and bottom lines.

As for Quidel, the company began July by saying that it expected to report a Q2 revenue increase in the range of 86 to 87 percent over the prior-year quarter, attributing the increase to demand for its COVID-19-related diagnostic products. Indeed, the company reported at the end of the month that revenues rose 86 percent in Q2, handily beating analyst estimates for the top and bottom lines.

The firm said it was massively ramping up production of its molecular diagnostic and antigen tests to meet skyrocketing demands for SARS-CoV-2 testing in the US, which CEO Douglas Bryant called "unfathomable."

In mid-July, the company also announced that the US Department of Health and Human Services was planning to purchase 2,000 Sofia and Sofia 2 instruments and 750,000 Sofia SARS Antigen FIA tests to help detect SARS-CoV-2 in nursing homes.

Adaptive's stock fell after the company announced the pricing of a public offering of common stock that was expected to bring in gross proceeds of around $240 million for the firm. The offering consisted of 8 million shares of common stock, including 6 million being sold by Adaptive and 2 million being sold by a shareholder, at a price of $40 per share.

The firm said it intended to use the funds to accelerate investments in its T Cell Receptor Antigen Map, "scale commercial and marketing activities associated with immunoSeq Dx clinical products and services, and support continued research and development for drug discovery initiatives."

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