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Gen-Probe Shares Close Down on WSJ Report

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Shares of Gen-Probe fell more than 2 percent in Tuesday trade after a report in The Wall Street Journal said that Novartis was no longer "actively pursuing" a deal to acquire the San Diego-based molecular diagnostics firm.

Novartis was believed to be the sole remaining bidder for Gen-Probe after Life Technologies and Thermo Fisher Scientific reportedly backed out of the bidding process.

News that Gen-Probe was for sale first emerged in late April, after the firm had reportedly hired Morgan Stanley to seek a buyer. In addition to the firms already mentioned, Danaher was initially listed as a potential buyer.

Last week, investment firm Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on Gen-Probe's stock to $75 from $88, saying that there appeared to be no competitive bids to acquire the molecular diagnostics firm.

Gen-Probe's shares closed at $62.41 in Tuesday trade on the Nasdaq. Its shares had not traded that low since early March.

In a research note published Tuesday afternoon, Baird Analyst Quintin Lai said that despite the drop, "we believe there has been no change in [Gen-Probe's] fundamental business and pipeline."

Lai followed that note with another on Wednesday morning, upgrading the firm's stock rating to Outperform with a $75 price target, down from a previous target of $82.

Jefferies Analyst Jon Wood also lowered the price target on Gen-Probe to $75 from a previous $92. Wood said that it is "inconceivable" that "a well-capitalized and entrenched molecular diagnostic franchise would be unable to attract a healthy premium in current market conditions."