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GenomeWeb Index Recovers in April as Life Science Industry Focuses on Coronavirus Test Development

NEW YORK – The GenomeWeb Index rose more than 18 percent in April as investors reacted positively to efforts by life science companies to develop new diagnostic assays for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The index outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which all saw recoveries of their own, rising 11 percent, 16 percent, and 15 percent, respectively.

Individual stock performance in the GenomeWeb Index was largely positive in April, as 30 of the 32 stocks saw gains and only two saw losses. GenMark Diagnostics led the gainers with a 204 percent increase in stock price. Meridian Bioscience and Hologic rounded out the list, each with a 43 percent gain. April marked GenMark's second consecutive month on the list of top-three performers — the company saw an 18 percent stock price increase in March.

Fluidigm (-12 percent) and NeoGenomics Laboratories (-1 percent) were April's only decliners.

GenMark's shares began their climb after the company said in early April that it expects to report total revenues of $38.7 million for the first quarter of 2020, up 80 percent from $21.5 million in Q1 2019. Even as many other companies are reporting that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected their first quarter earnings, GenMark said testing for COVID-19 positively impacted its first quarter placements and revenues. Approximately 80 percent of gross placements were associated with interest in COVID-19 testing, and SARS-CoV-2 consumable revenues accounted for approximately 5 percent of total ePlex revenues.

GenMark Interim President and CEO Scott Mendel said in a statement that its sample-to-answer test enables healthcare providers to determine if a patient has COVID-19 in less than two hours. He added that the company "opportunistically repositioned 55 ePlex analyzers to provide COVID-19 testing capacity across as many customer sites as possible," and that the repositioning strategy allowed GenMark to expand into new customer sites.

The company also provided guidance for full-year 2020 revenues, which many other firms have declined to do in light of the pandemic.

Meridian's shares also benefitted from the company's announcement that its preliminary fiscal Q2 revenues are expected to grow about 14 percent year over year. High demand for the company's molecular products, namely its SARS-CoV-2 detection reagents, drove revenue growth in the life science segment, Meridian said, adding that it expects increased revenue in the third quarter as well, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hologic saw an increase in share price in April despite announcing early in the month that it expected to report an 8 percent drop in Q2 revenues. Despite the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the firm's overall revenues, however, the company also said revenues for its global diagnostics business rose 8 percent year over year.

Hologic noted that its molecular product revenues included $3.4 million in sales of its Panther Fusion SARS-CoV-2 assay, and that it had successfully scaled up manufacturing to produce almost 600,000 Panther Fusion SARS-CoV-2 tests a month. Hologic is also planning to launch a new Aptima molecular assay to run on its Panther system, its second assay to detect SARS-CoV-2.

Fluidigm's drop in share price came partly on the news that the company is expecting an 8 percent decline in Q1 revenues. The firm said in mid-April that it saw "significant slowdown" in customer activity beginning in China and spreading to all regions as Q1 and the COVID-19 pandemic progressed.

Its shares recovered somewhat, though not completely, after a public-private partnership in Oklahoma announced that it plans to begin high-throughput molecular diagnostic testing for COVID-19 using Fluidigm's microfluidic technology.