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Despite Broader Market Woes, GWDN Index Falls Only 1 Percent in First-Half 2010

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The GenomeWeb Daily News Index of 'omics tools and molecular diagnostics firms declined just under 1 percent for the first-half of 2010, performing far better than the broader stock market.

The GWDN Index was helped by a strong first half for several firms, whose stocks gained more than 40 percent. The top gainer among them was Caliper Life Sciences, which was up 68 percent for the first six months of 2010. Among the other top stocks were Millipore (+47 percent), Sequenom (+43 percent), Illumina (+42 percent), and Accelr8 (+40 percent).

However, three firms in the Index declined more than 40 percent in the first half including CombiMatrix (-60 percent), Helicos BioSciences (-57 percent), and Myriad Genetics (-43 percent).

Caliper's stock has risen steadily over the past few months, as the firm has divested some non-core products lines, while introducing new products into higher-growth areas. It also posted revenue growth and cut its net loss for the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Millipore's shares surged in February after rumors surfaced that Thermo Fisher Scientific had made a $6 billion bid for the firm, which was followed by Merck KGaA's $7.2 billion agreement to acquire the company.

Sequenom's shares are up sharply for the first half of 2010, too, though the firm's stock has fluctuated, trading as high as $8.65 in early March before closing June at $5.91. In mid-Febraury, Sequenom launched its SensiGene Fetal (XY) test through its CLIA lab, the Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine, resulting in a spike in its share price.

The firm has been recovering from last year's investigation into the mishandling of R&D data on its SEQureDx Down syndrome test, which the firm disclosed in April 2009. That investigation led to the firing of President and CEO Harry Stylli and others.

Illumina's shares also have risen as the firm announced two large orders in the first half of the year for its new HiSeq 2000 sequencing instruments. The first order was from BGI for 128 of the systems, which was followed several months later by the announcement that the Broad Institute had purchased 51 HiSeq 2000 instruments.

Two of the firms whose stocks struggled in the first half of 2010 — CombiMatrix and Helicos — announced restructurings and repositionings of their respective businesses. In both cases, the firms are looking to expand in the molecular diagnostics field.

Myriad's shares came under pressure after a federal District Court in late March declared Myriad's BRCA gene patents invalid. A little more than a month later, Myriad posted first-quarter revenues that fell well short of analysts' consensus estimate.

The GWDN Index was down sharply over the months of May and June, but managed to finish the first half of 2010 down just under 1 percent. In comparison, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 6 percent for the same period, while the Nasdaq was down 7 percent, and the Nasdaq Biotech Index had declined 5 percent.

Editor's note: GenMark Diagnostics, which was added to the GWDN Index starting in June, is not listed in the comparison because it did not float in the US until the end of May.

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