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WaferGen Q1 Revenues Drop on Sluggish SmartChip Equipment Sales

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – WaferGen Biosystems reported after the close of the market Monday an 18 percent drop in first quarter revenues, primarily due to weak sales of its SmartChip system, though it saw a sharp increase in SmartChip consumables and services.

For the three-month period ended March 31, WaferGen's revenues slipped to $1.1 million from $1.4 million year over year, well off the average analysts' estimate of $2.2 million.

Product revenue fell to $1 million from about $1.3 million in the same quarter a year earlier as sales of SmartChip capital equipment fell 83 percent to $102,000, which the company attributed to customers' inability to "get their capital expenditure budgets released.

"We did have a little bit of a weak quarter in capital equipment sales, which was not surprising, [keeping] in mind the cyclical nature of the business," WaferGen Executive Chairman Ivan Trifunovich said during a conference call. "There are some sales that took longer than expected, and we're looking forward to closing [these] in the near future."

WaferGen CFO Michael Henighan added on the call that SmartChip capital equipment sales in the quarter consisted primarily of target enrichment systems, which have a lower sale price than SmartChip real-time PCR systems.

First quarter sales of SmartChip consumables and services, however, jumped 170 percent to exceed $500,000, an uptick Trifunovich attributed to growing use of the company's real-time PCR chip panels and services.

"There are a couple of clinical labs that are utilizing our technology [including Pathway Genomics and Admera Health]," he said. "As they ramp up, our recurring revenue from consumables will hopefully grow."

WaferGen's net loss in the first quarter surged to $4.8 million, or $.85 a share, from $2.5 million, or $2.79 a share, a year earlier, missing the Wall Street average loss estimate of $.53 a share.

The firm's R&D spending in the quarter rose to $2.5 million from $1.4 million, in large part due to the company's work on its SmartChip single-cell sequencing platform that is expected to launch by year-end, as well as accrued bonus expense. SG&A costs climbed to $2.8 million from about $2.1 million, primarily because of increased stock compensation and accrued bonus expense.

At the end of the first quarter, WaferGen had cash and cash equivalents of $11.2 million.

Henighan said that the company anticipates this cash will be sufficient to fund operations into 2016.

The company said that it expects to report full-year revenues between $8 million to $8.5 million, excluding revenues from single-cell products under development.

In a separate announcement, the firm said that it has named Rolland Carlson as its new president and CEO, effective immediately. Carlson most recently served as president and CEO of molecular diagnostics firm Asuragen. He takes over the top spot at WaferGen for Trifunovich, who has been appointed executive chairman of the firm.