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Cepheid Preliminary Q2 Revenues Increase 19 Percent; Stock Falls

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Cepheid announced after the close of the market on Thursday that its preliminary second-quarter earnings results are anticipated to beat consensus analyst estimates on the top and bottom lines.

For the three months ended June 30, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm said that total revenues are expected to be about $96 million, which would beat Wall Street expectations of $92.2 million. It also would represent a 19 percent improvement over $81.0 million in revenues recorded in the second quarter of 2012.

For the recently completed quarter, Cepheid said that it had $70 million in commercial clinical revenues, as well as $17 million from its High Burden Developing Country program, and $9 million in non-clinical revenues.

Within its commercial clinical business, reagents revenues rose to $60 million, a 17 percent increase from a year ago, driven by 22 percent growth in Xpert test revenue. Commercial clinical system revenues of $10 million reflected a total of 156 commercial system placements —103 internationally and 53 in North America.

"Despite better than expected revenues, we would expect weakness in the stock due to the softness in the underlying core commercial clinical revenues ($60M vs our estimate of $62.5M), which adds to the fear of a slowing MRSA screening business prompted by a [New England Journal of Medicine] article and editorial that casted doubt on the benefit of active detection of MRSA over targeted decolonization," Mizuho Securities USA analyst Peter Lawson wrote in a note published Thursday evening.

In Friday morning trade on the NASDAQ, shares of Cepheid were down 3 percent at $35.16.

The company also said it recorded an additional reserve of $3.0 million of inventory at the end of the quarter, which impacted EPS by about $.04.

Cepheid's net loss for the second quarter is estimated at $6.6 million, or $.10 per share, which would compare to a profit of $1.1 million, or $.02 per share, a year ago. On a non-GAAP basis, the company expects a profit of $1.2 million, or $.02 per share, which would beat the consensus Wall Street estimate of a loss of $.03 per share, but is lower than a previous estimate of $.06.

"HBDC revenues were materially above our forecast (two out of the last three quarters), again underscoring the lumpy nature of the business," Goldman Sachs analyst Isaac Ro said in a note published today. "Given the lower margins in HBDC and the modestly weaker commercial clinical revenues, we assume less favorable mix is one of the drivers of the lowered EPS guidance."

The non-GAAP figures exclude about $6.5 million related to employee stock-based compensation and $1.2 million related to amortization of purchased intangible assets, Cepheid said.

"A key priority for the second quarter was to put three quarters of Xpert back orders firmly behind us and start to reassure customers that there were no longer any constraints with regards to Xpert test availability," Cepheid Chairman and CEO John Bishop said in a statement.

In September 2012, Cepheid said that a manufacturing issue related to its Xpert cartridges resulted in a $6.7 million backlog and accounts being placed on allocation. The problem also negatively affected new business development.

"Record revenue of $96 million and the associated production volumes show that we made good progress in this regard," Bishop said on Thursday.

The inventory reserve, he added, was associated with "certain manufacturing materials that did not meet our internal in-process criteria but were expected to be salvageable for potential future use."

The firm's new EVP of Global Operations, Warren Kocmond, assessed the manufacturing inventory in the last weeks of the quarter and identified these items for further analysis, "and having now completed the analysis, we have concluded that a portion of these materials should be reserved at this time," Bishop said.

The company is scheduled to announce its second-quarter results on July 18.

"Though the second quarter does not appear to be anything spectacular, we view it as mostly in line and expect that as the manufacturing cloud is removed from the company, it will lead to an opportunity for acceleration in revenues in the back half of the year that we believe investors are looking for," William Blair analyst Brian Weinstein added in a note today.

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