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Guardant Health Leads February GenomeWeb Index on News of Liquid Biopsy Value Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – After gaining more than 11 percent in January, the GenomeWeb Index grew again in February, gaining more than 8 percent.

The index outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which gained nearly 4 percent, more than 3 percent, and nearly 3 percent, respectively. Stock performance in the February GenomeWeb Index was largely positive as 27 of the 30 stocks saw gains and only three saw losses.

Guardant Health took the top spot for gainers with a 65 percent increase in share price. Invitae (+43 percent) and Fluidigm (+28 percent) rounded out the top three performers.

The biggest loser in February was Luminex, which dropped 9 percent. Twist Bioscience (-6 percent) and Becton Dickinson (less than -1 percent) completed the list of bottom-three performers.

Guardant Health received an end-of-the-month boost when investigators from MD Anderson announced that they soon plan to release a study that adds evidence of the value of comprehensive liquid biopsy tests such as the company's Guardant360 assay. The study, which will be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, found that using Guardant's test prospectively enabled researchers to find more actionable mutations more rapidly than did tissue biomarker analyses for the same patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Invitae's shares rose on the news that its fourth quarter revenues grew 78 percent year over year to $45.4 million, beating the consensus Wall Street estimate of $40.8 million. The company also reported that full-year 2018 revenues more than doubled to $147.7 million, beating analysts' consensus estimate of $143.1 million.

The company also began offering both carrier screening and noninvasive prenatal aneuploidy testing as part of its reproductive health portfolio. It launched noninvasive prenatal screening tests for trisomies 13, 18, and 21, including microdeletions and sex chromosome aneuploidies as add-ons. According to Invitae Chief Medical Officer Bob Nussbaum, the company is initially outsourcing the testing to Illumina, which will run its Verifi test for Invitae, but eventually plans to bring the test in-house.

Fluidigm's share also grew on positive earnings news. The company reported that its Q4 revenues jumped 17 percent year over year, driven in large part by its mass cytometry business. Its revenues of $32.3 million for the quarter beat the analysts' average estimate of $30.6 million. The company also bested its own previous guidance for Q4 revenues of $29 million to $32 million.

Luminex, meanwhile, saw its stock drop after it reported adjusted earnings per share of $.04 in Q4, missing the consensus Wall Street estimate of $.09 per share. The firm's shares fell more than 11 percent the morning after the report. Luminex also missed the consensus Wall Street estimate for EPS for full-year 2018. The company reported an adjusted EPS of $.48 for the year, and analysts had expected EPS of $.54.

Twist Biosciences also missed Wall Street's estimate for its loss per share in its fiscal first quarter. The company reported its net loss climbed to $22.6 million, or $1.18 per share, from $16.9 million, or $6.42 per share, in fiscal Q1 2018. Analysts had expected a net loss of $.85 per share.

The firm is also still battling a lawsuit against Agilent Technologies, which has alleged that Twist, its CEO Emily Leproust, and 20 other defendants stole intellectual property from Agilent.