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Omics Tools and MDx Stocks Sluggish in April; More than Half of Companies See Share Prices Drop

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – More than half of the companies operating in the omics tools and molecular diagnostics space saw their stock prices drop in April, resulting in a sluggish GenomeWeb Daily News Index for the month.

Of the 29 firms in the GWDN Index, 16 declined during the past month, and overall the index inched up less than 1 percent. It trailed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq, which grew a little less than 2 percent each, as well as the Nasdaq Biotech Index, which gained almost 8 percent.

The biggest decliners for the month were Rosetta Genomics, down almost 24 percent and Affymetrix, down almost 23 percent.

The sharp drop-off for Rosetta Genomics came despite some positive news at the end of March and into early April. In late March, the company said that its revenues for 2012 almost doubled from 2011. The firm also told investors at a conference that it plans to raise awareness of its microRNA-based molecular diagnostic tests by pouring $40 million into its commercialization efforts, as BioArray News reported, and further said that a study demonstrating "very good performance" of its miRview Kidney test has been accepted for publication in Molecular Oncology, as Gene Silencing News reported.

For Affymetrix, the past month was dominated by its stormy finances. In early April, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm pre-announced that revenues for the first quarter would come in below the consensus Wall Street estimate. Analysts lowered their expectations, but Affy's earnings fell short of the revised estimates, resulting in a 9 percent drop in the company's share price the day after the results were announced this week.

Another firm whose shares took a hit was Accelerate Diagnostics, which was down 13 percent. The reasons are unclear, and the dip reversed a trend of steady gains the Tucson, Ariz.-based company has seen since the start of the year. Last month, it rose almost 39 percent month over month.

Other decliners in April included Sequenom, PerkinElmer, and Fluidigm, which fell about 9 percent each.

The biggest gainer was Nanosphere, whose stock jumped more than 26 percent, following a 12 percent spike in March. Investment bank Cowen & Co. initiated coverage of the Northbrook, Ill.-based company a few weeks ago with an Outperform rating. In February Michael McGarrity was named Nanosphere's CEO, replacing William Moffitt. A number of changes to the board were also announced at the time.

Also, shares of GenMark Diagnostics (+20 percent) continued an upward climb, and since the start of the year the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company's stock has risen 68 percent. Cowen & Co. also initiated coverage of the company last month with an Outperform rating.

Life Technologies also remained on an upward trajectory and was up 14 percent in April. Its stock has risen by 50 percent since the start of the year, buoyed by early speculation that it was seeking a buyer. The search ended in mid-April when Thermo Fisher Scientific announced plans to buy the company for $13.6 billion.

Life Tech's shares now trade at more than $73 per share, not very far short of the $76 per share price that Thermo Fisher is paying as part of the deal. A class action lawsuit seeking to scuttle the agreement, so far, has had no effect on Life Tech's stock. Meanwhile, Thermo Fisher's stock rose more than 5 percent last month.

Illumina (+20 percent) also jumped significantly in April. During the month, the San Diego-based company reported first-quarter revenues spiked 21 percent year over year and announced a deal with Chinese diagnostic testing service provider Kindstar Global to develop molecular assays based on Illumina's products.

Lastly, Vermillion climbed nearly 13 percent following the election of dissident shareholder Robert Goggin to the company's board at the end of March. His election capped a year-long effort by a trio of unhappy shareholders, which included Goggin, for a voice on how the company is being run.

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