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Fluidigm Reports 33 Percent Spike in Q1 Revenues

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Fluidigm reported after the close of market Wednesday that its first-quarter revenues jumped 33 percent year over year as the company was essentially cash flow neutral for the first time in any quarter in its history.

The South San Francisco-based firm netted total revenues of $14.5 million for the three-month period ended March 31, compared to $10.9 million in the first quarter of 2012. It edged out the consensus Wall Street estimate of $14.3 million for the quarter.

Fluidigm reported instrument revenues of $7.9 million, a 34 percent increase over the $5.9 million it logged in Q1 2012. This spike was driven largely by sales of its C1 Single-Cell Auto Prep System.

Fluidigm CFO Vikram Jog said on a conference call following the release of the results that about 70 percent of the firm's BioMark HD systems sold in Q1 were purchases motivated by single-cell gene expression use. Altogether, Fluidigm had an installed base of 720 instruments at the end of the quarter, he noted.

The company tallied consumables revenues of $6.3 million, up 31 percent from $4.9 million in Q1 2012 and driven primarily by high-throughput production genomics customers.

As in recent quarters, about 40 percent of Fluidigm's revenues were driven by single-cell genomics applications, an area that the company has embraced as its sweet spot in the last few years. The company noted that revenue from single-cell genomics applications nearly doubled year over year in Q1, primarily due to sales of the C1 platform.

However, Fluidigm President and CEO Gajus Worthington warned on the call following the release of the results that the company was not yet selling the system this same time a year ago, so it does not expect quite the same year-over-year comparisons in future quarters.

Nevertheless, Fluidigm sees the field as a key growth driver, and expects 2013 to be "a watershed year for single-cell genomics," Worthington said.

Single cell genomics "continues to grow substantially despite some concerns about sequestration — and the other key area of focus for Fluidigm, production genomics, derives its funding from industrial, not academic, funding sources," said Worthington.

Fluidigm posted a net loss in Q1 of $3.6 million, or $.14 per share, compared to a net loss of $6.7 million, or $.33 per share, in the first quarter of 2012. It easily beat analysts' consensus estimate for a loss per share of $.19.

Fluidigm's R&D expenses totaled $4.2 million in the first quarter, a slight decrease from $4.3 million in the comparable period last year. Meantime, SG&A costs rose 18 percent to $11.1 million from $9.4 million in Q1 2012.

During the quarter, the firm received $3.1 million in cash for its minority equity interest in Verinata Health, which was acquired by Illumina for $450 million in February.

Fluidigm finished the year with approximately $86.9 million in cash, cash equivalents, and investments.

The company is maintaining its 2013 total revenue growth guidance of 22 percent to 26 percent over 2012. Historically, Fluidigm's product revenues have tended to be lowest in the first quarter of the year and highest in the fourth quarter of the year. This trend is expected to continue in 2013.

"I am simply elated that Fluidigm was able to generate cash in Q1 of 2013," Worthington said on the call. "It's a major milestone for us and occurred substantially earlier than we expected.

"I wish I could say this will continue throughout the year, but we don't expect it to, as we enjoyed the polar opposite of a perfect storm, with overachievement in revenues, margins, and cash collection combined with better-than-expected operating expense and spending on working capital," he said. "In addition, we're continuing to invest in new products and our commercial channel. We expect to break even at the EBITDA level at a quarterly revenue of approximately $20 million."