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Cepheid's Q4 Revenues Rise 30 Percent

This article has been updated with comments and additional information from the firm's conference call.

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cepheid reported after the close of the market Thursday that its fourth-quarter revenues increased 30 percent on strong instrument and reagent growth.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based molecular diagnostics firm brought in total revenues of $49.2 million for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, compared to $37.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2008. The company easily beat analysts' consensus estimate of $45.4 million for the quarter.

Cepheid's clinical systems sales rose 28 percent to $10 million from $7.8 million, while its clinical reagents sales increased 54 percent to $25.6 million from $16.6 million.

Cepheid's industrial product sales for the quarter rose 58 percent to $6.1 million from $3.9 million, while its biothreat sales declined 2 percent to $5.1 million from $5.2 million.

"Despite a challenging selling environment, our clinical business grew approximately twice as fast as the overall molecular market, which in itself is the fastest-growing market segment within the in vitro diagnostics market," Cepheid CEO John Bishop said during the firm's conference call.

Cepheid placed 134 of its GeneXpert multiplex, molecular diagnostic instruments in the quarter, despite a tough selling environment for capital equipment, Bishop noted during the call.

He said that the firm's Clostridium difficile test performed "very well and was our fastest-growing test in the fourth quarter." He noted that other "strong performers" in the quarter included Cepheid's multidrug-resistant tuberculosis test.

During the quarter, Cepheid "completed the phase-in of [its] new Xpert MRSA nasal cartridge with reagents on board," said Bishop. "This marks a significant improvement for our customers, further simplifying and reducing hands-on time. It's also an important step forward for Cepheid towards our goal of bringing the first CLIA-waived PCR product test to market, which we are currently targeting next year."

He also noted that the firm's recently FDA-cleared Xpert vanA test for vancomycin-resistant enterococci has been categorized as moderate complexity. "Out of nine tests available in the US, this marks our eighth test to be available for use in CLIA moderate-complexity laboratories," said Bishop. He said this highlights the unique benefits of the firm's technology.

The firm's net loss for Q4 was $4.3 million, or $.07 per share, compared to a net loss of $6 million, or $.10 per share, for Q4 2008. Analysts, on average, had expected a net loss of $.12 per share.

Cepheid's R&D spending declined to $9.9 million from $10.8 million, while its SG&A spending increased to $13.8 million from $12.6 million.

For full-year 2009, Cepheid reported revenues of $170.6 million, up less than 1 percent from $169.6 million for 2008. The firm also beat analysts' consensus estimate for the year of $167 million.

Cepheid's full-year clinical systems sales fell 18 percent to $26.2 million from $32.1 million, while its reagent sales increased 54 percent to $89.7 million from $58.2 million.

For full-year 2009, its industrial product sales were up 24 percent to $19.2 million from $15.4 million in 2008, and its biothreat sales fell 31 percent to $24.8 million from $35.8 million. The firm said that it expects biothreat revenue to decline further in 2010 to $17 million.

Cepheid's net loss for the year increased slightly to $22.5 million, or $.39 per share, from a net loss of $22.4 million, or $.39 per share. The firm's R&D spending decreased to $39.3 million from $43.3 million, while its SG&A spending was $50.4 million versus $50.6 million the year before.

Cepheid finished the year with $35.8 million in cash and cash equivalents and an additional $24.9 million in short-term investments.

For fiscal-year 2010, the firm has provided revenue guidance of between $195 million and $205 million, with a net loss of between $.35 and $.27 per share.

In early Friday trade on the Nasdaq, shares of Cepheid rose 3 percent to $14.98.

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