NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Of the 33 firms that are included in the GenomeWeb Daily News Index of life science tools and molecular diagnostics makers, eight of those had stock price gains exceeding 100 percent for full-year 2009.
As was the case with tech stocks in general in the market, many of the firms in the Index had double-digit returns, with only six firms having a drop in their stock price compared to the close of 2008.
The biggest gainer for the year, by far, was Compugen, whose shares climbed in the second half of the year, culminating in a late-year spike. Compugen's shares closed 2009 up over 1,000 percent for the year.
Shares of the Israel-based computational biology firm had already risen 367 percent in the first half of 2009, and its shares rose even further over the last two weeks of December, as two news items served as catalysts.
Exact Sciences also produced a massive gain in 2009, with its shares up 495 percent for the year. Like Compugen, Exact had a strong first half of the year — its shares were up 365 percent at the midway point — and continued to climb through the back half of '09.
Exact, which traded at only $.57 per share at the close of 2008, rose early in the year after the firm announced that it had sold to Genzyme certain intellectual property assets related to the fields of prenatal and reproductive health in a deal that is expected to provide the firm with a cash infusion of $24.5 million. In addition, the Marlborough, Mass.-based firm sold to Genzyme three million shares of its common stock for $2 per share. The deal ended Sequenom's bid to acquire Exact Sciences for around $41 million.
The other big gainers for the year were Bruker (+199), Helicos BioSciences (+164), Caliper Life Sciences (+162 percent), Orchid Cellmark (+155 percent), and Life Technologies (+124 percent).
The stock that fell the furthest during 2009 was Sequenom, which closed the year down 79 percent. The molecular diagnostics firm's shares collapsed following its disclosure in April that test data for its SEQureDx Down syndrome test had been mishandled. Later in the year, Sequenom's board fired certain executives and other management members resigned following an investigation into the scandal.
The other firms in the Index to lose ground in 2009 were Accelr8 (-63 percent), Celera (-38 percent), Luminex (-30 percent), Myriad Genetics (-21 percent), and CombiMatrix (-9 percent).
Overall, the GWDN Index finished 2009 up 28 percent over its 2008 close. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 19 percent year over year, while the Nasdaq had a strong rebound, rising 44 percent. The Nasdaq Biotech Index climbed around 16 percent for the year.
Myriad's Dec. 31, 2008 stock price has been adjusted to reflect a two-for-one stock split that occurred on March 26, 2009.