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Meridian Bioscience Leads Decliners in August as GenomeWeb Index Falls 4 Percent

NEW YORK – The GenomeWeb Index fell 4 percent in August, despite a continued rise in the broader markets and what had been several months of gains for shares of firms in the omics tools and molecular diagnostics sectors.

The index underperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Nasdaq, and the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, which rose nearly 8 percent, nearly 10 percent, and nearly 1 percent, respectively. Individual stock performances in the GenomeWeb Index were mixed in August, as 19 of the 32 stocks saw gains and 13 saw losses.

Pacific Biosciences led the gainers with a 77 percent increase in stock price, while Natera (+33 percent) and Twist Bioscience (+25 percent) came in second and third.

Meridian Bioscience led the decliners in August with a 42 percent drop in stock price. Quidel (-38 percent) came in second, followed by GenMark Diagnostics (-27 percent). Quidel had been third on the list of gainers in July with a 26 percent increase in share price.

PacBio began the month by announcing that it plans to collaborate with Asuragen to develop clinical and research assays based on its single-molecule, next-generation sequencing technology. Their initial focus will be on research to support development of a carrier screening assay.

And despite reporting a 14 percent drop in second quarter revenues, the company also beat analysts' average estimates for the top and bottom lines, and said it completed 23 Sequel II installations in the quarter, bringing its total installed base to 148 instruments.

PacBio also priced a public offering of 19.4 million shares of its common stock at $4.47 per share later in the month. The firm said it expects gross proceeds of approximately $86.9 million, and will use the funds for R&D, additional product launches, commercial infrastructure expansion, and general corporate purposes.

Natera also reported positive news in August, beginning with a Phase II study which demonstrated that its customized Signatera ctDNA assays could potentially be useful for monitoring whether patients with a variety of cancers will respond to immunotherapy. Natera received the CE mark for Signatera at the end of the month.

The company also reported that its Q2 revenues grew 16 percent year over year, driven by sales of its Panorama noninvasive prenatal and Horizon carrier screening tests. Natera is also collaborating with Mass General Cancer Center of Massachusetts General Hospital on an early-stage breast cancer clinical trial of a molecularly targeted therapy.

Twist Bioscience's shares also rose on positive earnings news. The company reported its fiscal Q3 revenues rose 56 percent year over year, beating Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Meridian also had a positive earnings report in August, with a 75 percent year-over-year jump in its fiscal third quarter revenues. The increase was driven almost entirely by demand for COVID-19-related products within the firm's life science business, such as reagents used by diagnostics manufacturers to develop rapid antigen tests. But after Abbott received Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration for its own rapid antigen SARS-CoV-2 test last week, Meridian's share price dropped, along with that of several other Abbott competitors.

Quidel's shares took a hit in August when the US District Court for the Southern District of California denied the company's request for damages in a false advertising lawsuit it had filed against Siemens Healthineers. Quidel originally sued Siemens Healthineers in December 2016 claiming false advertising and unfair competition associated with competing assays that measure thyroid-stimulating immunoglobins to detect Graves' disease. But the court concluded that Quidel hadn't produced sufficient evidence to prove its claims.

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