NEW YORK – Fluidigm reported after the close of the market on Thursday that its first quarter revenues declined 8 percent year over year as both its mass cytometry and microfluidics research product sales were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the three months ended March 31, 2020, Fluidigm reported revenues of $27.6 million compared to $30.1 million a year ago and short of analysts' average estimate of $29.0 million.
First quarter product revenue fell 23 percent to $19.0 million from $24.8 million a year ago, while service revenue was essentially flat at $5.2 million year over year.
Mass cytometry product revenue decreased 26 percent to $11.5 million from $15.5 million a year ago due to lower instrument sales, while microfluidics product revenue fell 20 percent to $7.5 million from $9.4 million primarily due to lower consumables sales partially offset by higher instrument sales.
Fluidigm shaved its Q1 net loss to $16.0 million, or $.23 per share, from $25.5 million, or $.44 per share a year ago. On an adjusted basis, its loss per share was $.13, better than the Wall Street average expectation of $.15.
The firm's Q1 R&D expenses rose 4 percent to $8.7 million from $8.4 million, while its SG&A spending was essentially flat at $22.7 million.
"While the pandemic has created near-term headwinds, it has also delivered new opportunities," Fluidigm President and CEO Chris Linthwaite said in a statement.
For instance, Oklahoma's OU Medicine in April submitted a test to detect SARS-CoV-2 for Emergency Use Authorization by the US Food and Drug Administration. This test is intended for large-scale testing of patients across the OU Medicine healthcare system and was developed in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation.
Fluidigm also disclosed on Thursday that Lab24, a Florida CRO, has filed for FDA EUA for its SARS-CoV-2 detection test using Fluidigm's microfluidics technology, while BioXpedia, a Danish CRO, is offering a SARS-CoV-2 test on the Biomark HD. In addition, a consortium of medical schools led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is developing an epigenetic test for early detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
"For pathogen testing, our microfluidics platform is uniquely well-suited," Linthwaite said in a conference call recapping financial results. "As the US FDA issued guidance for Emergency Use Authorization, we began deploying BioMark and Juno systems into testing centers, new customer segments for us. One single BioMark/Juno combination, utilizing our 192.24 [integrated fluidic circuit], can process as many as 6,000 bulk RNA detection tests per day, or more than 2 million tests per year."
In addition, he noted, Fluidigm's technology requires 1,000 times less reagent than 96-well formats, and its automation capabilities reduce the need for human interaction.
"In Q1, the revenue impact from these microfluidic instrument placements was incremental to our historic placement numbers," Linthwaite said. "Given our lack of brand awareness and channels in this customer segment, we have been pleased with this early success."
In addition to the ongoing collaborative projects, Fluidigm is also working on a BioMark-based COVID-19 EUA submission. "We believe that this submission will help close more opportunities in our growing pipeline, and partially mitigate the impact on lab shutdowns in other customer segments," he said. "We have a pipeline of additional assays in development that will leverage this initial EUA system submission and address testing needs in the second half of the year and beyond."
Meanwhile, Fluidigm's mass cytometry platform "is measuring immune response in experimental new treatments and for characterization of COVID-19-induced immune response in the infected population," Linthwaite said in a statement. "As a market leader in immune monitoring we are uniquely well-positioned to support testing of investigational new vaccines and therapeutics."
To boost its mass cytometry business, Fluidigm also on Thursday announced the launch of its new Therapeutic Insights Services Business, designed to provide researchers with sample-to-answer mass cytometry and imaging mass cytometry services.
Linthwaite said on the call that Fluidigm incubated this business in Q1, and that the fee-for-service lab is staffed and running projects.
"The TIS menu includes a range of imaging- and suspension-based mass cytometry services, [including] experimental panel design, custom antibody sourcing, conjugation and verification, staining, data acquisition, and data analysis," Linthwaite said. "There are many elements to this offering, and we are seeing immediate demand to run samples from labs that are not operational or cannot access their core facilities. In addition, we provide surge or backup capacity for CROs who are selling mass cytometry-related services, allowing them to market services without concerns for testing capacity constraints."
Concurrent with the launch, Fluidigm and Visikol, a provider of advanced tissue imaging and digital pathology services, announced a collaboration that will enable Visikol to offer its customers access to Fluidigm's IMC technology. Visikol is a CRO focused on drug discovery emphasizing bio-imaging, bioinformatics, and image analysis.
Fluidigm ended the quarter with $35.0 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $13.5 million in short-term investments.
The company previously stated that it is withdrawing its 2020 financial guidance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Friday morning trading on the Nasdaq, Fluidigm's shares were down more than 9 percent at $3.91.