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InforMax, Web-based Resources, National Science Grid Projects

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InforMax Share Price Continues to Fall on News of Poor 2Q Earnings

InforMax shares closed at an all-time low of $0.68 last Thursday following the release of the company’s second-quarter earnings. InforMax reported a 50 percent fall in total 2Q revenue and nearly double the net losses of the year-ago period.

For the period ended June 30, InforMax posted $3.8 million in total revenue compared with $7.6 million for the same time last year. Software licenses fell to $2.9 million of total revenue from $6.6 million year over year, and net loss increased to $6.5 million from $3.9 million in the second quarter of 2001. The company also revised its earnings estimates for the remainder of the year, from an initial guidance of $20 million to between $18 million and $19 million.

R&D spending decreased to $2.3 million from $2.6 million over the same period one year ago, the company said. Despite this reduction, CEO Andrew Whiteley informed analysts in a conference call that the company is sticking to its “aggressive product development plans,” and is on track to release “major updates” of its Vector NTI and GenoMax products in the third quarter as well as several new products in its desktop line before the end of the year.

Specifically, Whiteley said, the NTI suite will be expanded with a new protein annotation module, and the VectorWorks enterprise product will be updated with a new file sharing system and released under the new name of Life Share. A new Vector component and systems biology application are also scheduled for a Q3 release, and a server-side tool to supplement the LifeShare product will be released in Q4.

Meanwhile, InforMax’ plummeting share price, which hasn’t been past the dollar mark since June 21, is fueling industry-wide speculation that a sale of the struggling company is imminent. Insiders are abuzz with word that several acquisition offers are already on the table.

InforMax has $51 million in cash and liquid assets, enough to see it through three years at its current burn rate, according to CFO John Green. The company’s market cap as of July 25 was $17.3 million.

 

Data, Data Everywhere: Public Coffers Flush with New Deposits

Researchers dependent on web-based resources were presented with a bounty of goodies last week as three separate projects — the international Fugu rubripes sequencing team, the SNP Consortium, and the Sanger Institute’s zebrafish project — all released major new data sets.

The draft sequencing, assembly, and analysis of the Japanese pufferfish, F. rubripes, was reported last week on ScienceExpress, and the sequence data was released at www.jgi.doe.gov/fugu and www.fugubase.org. Fugu genome data is also available from Ensembl’s Singapore mirror site (www.ensembl.org/Fugu_rubripes). The project, led by the DOE’s Joint Genome Institute, marks the first publicly funded vertebrate genome to be published after the human genome.

The SNP consortium, made up of public and private research groups, released its genome-wide SNP-based human linkage map at http://snp.cshl.org. The map, which contains the position and order of nearly 3,000 frequently occurring SNPs that were determined by genotyping 767 individuals, is available in several formats for different user needs.

Finally, an initial assembly of the Sanger Institute’s Danio rerio zebrafish sequencing project is available via Ensembl at ftp://ftp.ensembl.org/pub/traces/zebrafish. The preliminary assembly includes 7,942,778 unique reads.

 

National Science Grid Projects Prosper in US and UK

The International Global Grid Forum, held July 21 to July 24 in Edinburgh, Scotland, brought word of new developments in US and UK science grid projects.

In the US, the DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory said it plans to plug its recently installed Hewlett-Packard Linux cluster into the DOE-sponsored Science Grid. The PNNL cluster, initially 8.3 teraflops [BioInform 04-22-02], is now expected to reach 9.2 teraflops of peak performance, according to HP.

Additionally, Sandia National Laboratories said it would use Platform’s Globus 2.0 for the ASCI (Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative) Grid. According to Platform, the deal is the industry’s first commercial end-user adoption of the open source Globus Toolkit.

Meanwhile, Research Councils UK (RCUK) announced plans to provide a 6.7-teraflop IBM Power 4 system to researchers through the UK e-science program by the end of the year. The system, which cost £53 million (US$83 million), will be located at the Daresbury Laboratory and connected to the RCUK-sponsored UK Grid.

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