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UBS Initiates Coverage of Agilent, Fluidigm, Qiagen

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – UBS today initiated coverage of Agilent Technologies with a Buy rating and price target of $92; Fluidigm with a Neutral rating and price target of $14; and Qiagen with a Neutral rating and price target of $42.

In a report to investors, UBS analyst Daniel Brennan noted that for Agilent, the investment bank's above-consensus 2019 through 2021 organic revenue forecasts are supported by durable high single-digit growth in pharma along with growth tied to the gas chromatography product cycle in the chemical and energy segment.

Agilent "has room to be more aggressive with its balance sheet," Brennan noted, adding that cell analysis, diagnostics, and genomics are the most likely areas for potential acquisition. Within its diagnostics and genomics business, Agilent has shown interest in biomolecular analysis and next-generation sequencing/genomics workflows, including informatics, Brennan noted.

For Fluidigm, Brennan noted that the product features of its Helios mass cytometry instrument are expected to "yield a significant addressable market opportunity" for the firm. The firm's instruments are in roughly half of the approximately 70 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers in the US, he said, adding, "Our diligence suggests it’s reasonable for every cancer center to adopt a CyTOF/Helios eventually, and it's not unreasonable to think full penetration by the Hyperion Imaging System can occur."

Qiagen is executing on four of the growth drivers presented at its last analyst day in 2016, Brennan said. They are QuantiFeron, an in vitro diagnostic test that aids in the detection of M. tuberculosis infection; NGS; personalized health; and the QiaSymphony DNA kits. The firm is also "adding new growth drivers via acquisitions in 2018 and 2019," Brennan said.

He added that more rapid adoption of recently acquired or soon-to-close platforms, including QiaStat, NeuMoDx, and digital PCR; better-than-expected margin expansion; and better performance in the base business are key levers for upside to the investment bank's base case for Qiagen.

In afternoon trading, Agilent's shares on the Nasdaq were up less than 1 percent at $81.36; Fluidigm's shares on the Nasdaq were down more than 1 percent at $13.62; and Qiagen's shares on the New York Stock Exchange were up less than 1 percent at $39.95.