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Fluidigm Stock a High Flyer in October as Sequenom, PacBio Shares Dropped Sharply

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Shares of Fluidigm rose nearly 44 percent during October, pacing the gainers in the GenomeWeb Daily News Index for the month, while Sequenom saw the biggest month-over-month drop at 28 percent.

Overall, the GWDN Index was up a little more than 3 percent, mostly on par with the broader market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 3 percent in October, while the Nasdaq Composite was up 4 percent. The Nasdaq Biotech Index was down 2 percent in the month, however.

Though the Index was up overall, the number of firms that saw their shares drop in October outpaced the number of companies whose stocks improved, 16 to 14.

Fluidigm's stock rose steadily throughout the month, which began with an announcement that it and NanoString Technologies had settled their legal dispute over claims that NanoString made in a study comparing the firms' single-cell products. Fluidigm sued NanoString late last year, accusing it of false advertising, unfair competition, and unlawful trade practice.

The biggest impetus behind Fluidigm's share jump was its announcement earlier this week that its third quarter revenues spiked 43 percent year over year. The results beat Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom lines and resulted in a one-day increase in its share price of 24 percent.

The two other big gainers during the month were Illumina (+16 percent) and Affymetrix (+14 percent).

In addition to reporting better-than-expected earnings results for its third quarter, Illumina also announced last month organizational changes at the firm in order to drive growth, and the acquisition of clinical software firm NextBio.

Additionally, Illumina may have collaterally benefitted from negative announcements concerning other firms, including Roche, which said that it is shuttering its 454 Life Sciences sequencing business, and Sequenom, which lost a patent infringement case involving the underlying technology of its MaterniT21 Plus test.

Through its Verinata Health business, Illumina offers non-invasive prenatal diagnostic testing, and the ruling from a Federal District Court in California on Wednesday that invalidated a patent held by Sequenom could provide a boost to sales of Illumina's test called Verifi, an analyst said.

Today, the company also announced that Verifi is now being offered through the California Prenatal Screening Program.

Affymetrix's shares have steadily gone up during the past month though there were no obvious drivers. In early October, it said that it sold its Anatrace business to investment firm StoneCalibre. The firm also said that it had refinanced its senior secured debt.

This week, Affy said that its third quarter revenues inched up 1 percent year over year, beating Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Meanwhile, Sequenom's sharp decline resulted from this week's court decision that invalidated US Patent No. 6,258,540. Following the ruling, the company's stock took a 23 percent hit.

It was not the only bad news for Sequenom last month, either, which began with a lawsuit leveled against the company, in which a shareholder alleged the firm and its board breached their fiduciary duty by implementing an illegal strategy to drive up orders of the MaterniT21 Plus test.

On a more positive note, Sequenom filed a 510(k) submission to the US Food and Drug Administration for marketing clearance of its Impact Dx System and Impact Dx Factor V Leiden and Factor II Genotyping Test. The company also is exploring options for its Genetic Analysis segment and is reviewing potential strategic alternatives for that business.

Meanwhile, Pacific Biosciences' stock fell 26 percent during the month. The company gave back almost all of the gains it saw in September, when its shares increased 32 percent on its deal with Roche Diagnostics to develop diagnostic products based on PacBio's SMRT technology.

Last week, PacBio reported a 164 percent jump in third quarter revenues year over year. Nonetheless, investors appeared unimpressed as shares of the company fell 19 percent the day after the results were announced.

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