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Following IPO, Fluidigm Reports Double-Digit Revenue Growth for Q4, FY'10

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By Ben Butkus

Fluidigm this week reported a 36 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues and 32 percent increase in yearly revenues in its first financial results statement since its initial public offering last month.

In addition, CEO Gajus Worthington provided an update regarding the uptake of Fludigm's newest real-time PCR system and thermal cycler; and discussed the status of the company's fledgling diagnostics play.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010, Fluidigm logged total revenues of $10.4 million compared to $7.6 million in Q4 2010.

The South San Francisco, Calif.-based company saw its instrument sales spike 40 percent to $6.7 million from $4.8 million, and its consumables sales climb 21 percent to $2.9 million from $2.4 million.

Meantime, Fluidigm's net loss for the quarter dropped to $3.1 million, or $1.59 per share, from $3.4 million, or $1.86 per share, year over year. On a non-GAAP basis, its net loss was $1.2 million, or $.63 per share, compared to $2.2 million, or $1.22 per share, for Q4 2009.

The firm's R&D spending declined 6 percent to $2.9 million from $3.1 million; while its SG&A expenses climbed 11 percent to $5.3 million from $5.9 million.

For full-year 2010, Fluidigm's recorded revenues of $33.6 million compared to $25.4 million in 2009. Instrument sales rose to $20.7 million from $17.3 million; while consumables sales rose to $9.8 million from $6.3 million.

Fluidigm's net loss for the year was $16.9 million, or $8.94 per share, compared to $19.1 million, or $11.02 per share, in 2009. On a non-GAAP basis, the yearly loss was $11.2 million, or $5.93 per share, versus $13.9 million, or $7.99 per share, in 2009.

Fluidigm's R&D spending for the year was $13 million, up from $12.3 million in 2009, and its SG&A spending increased to $23.5 million from $19.6 million.

Fluidigm noted that product margins increased to 62 percent in 2010 from 51 percent in 2009, primarily due to lower instrument material costs, higher chip capacity utilization, and higher chip yields and product mix.

The company also said that instrumentation sales were responsible for about 68 percent and consumables responsible for about 32 percent of revenues in 2010, a change from an approximately 73 percent/27 percent split in 2009.

Worthington told PCR Insider that this year-over-year change was primarily "an artifact of a particularly lumpy 2009" with respect to consumable chip revenues.

"If you look at the full year, consumables grew 55 percent year over year; and instruments grew at a substantially lower pace than that, so our overall product growth was 29 percent. So for the full year, the mix shifted meaningfully towards consumables from instruments," Worthington said.

However, Fluidigm logged about 40 percent of its full-year chip revenues in the fourth quarter of 2009, "so it was a particularly … unusual distribution of chip revenues," Worthington added. "In 2010, it was much more what one would expect — about 30 percent of our [overall] chip revenues were in Q4."

Fluidigm counts among its instrument platforms the IFC Controller AX, FC1 Cycler, EP1 Reader, and BioMark HD Reader, which mix and match to comprise the BioMark, EP1, and AccessArray platforms. Its consumables include Dynamic Array, Digital Array, and Access Array microfluidic chips for use on these systems.

Fluidigm finished the year with $5.7 million in cash and cash equivalents, which does not take into account the approximately $80 million in net proceeds it raised in its IPO last month (PCR Insider, 2/10/2011). Fluidigm first disclosed its renewed IPO effort in early December, reviving plans for a public offering that the company put on hiatus in September 2008 amid the economic downturn (PCR Insider, 12/9/2010).

Also last month, Fluidigm launched on a worldwide basis the BioMark HD real-time PCR system, the company's most advanced genomic analysis system. The platform, which is expected to completely replace its previous-generation BioMark instrument by the end of this year, has twice the throughput and is geared toward customers performing large-scale single-cell gene expression studies (PCR Insider, 2/3/2011).

Worthington said this week that although it is very early in the instrument's launch, "things are moving at a good pace," also noting that the company's content service, launched at the same time, was an important part of the new offering.

"We can and will design assays and provide those to our customers, and in the single-cell arena that's important," Worthington said. "And we have specific genes and panels available as well. Those were important parts of the launch, in addition to the instrument itself."

Meantime, last May Fluidigm launched the FC1 Cycler, which is used in the company’s EP1 and AccessArray systems and is compatible with its integrated fluidic circuit chips (PCR Insider, 5/20/11).

Worthington said this week that the FC1 has been "well received," and that nearly all of Fluidigm's customers using a previous thermal cycler have switched to the FC1. "Any new orders are for the FC1 now, and a meaningful fraction of our genotyping customers are moving over to the FC1, as well," Worthington said.

Lastly, in December Fluidigm also disclosed its first major foray into in vitro diagnostics: a collaboration with Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics to develop microfluidic digital PCR-based, non-invasive, prenatal molecular diagnostics, initially for fetal aneuploidies.

The agreement provided Novartis with an option to exclusively license Fluidigm's technology in the primary field of non-invasive testing for fetal aneuploidies and the secondary field of non-invasive testing of genetic abnormality, disease, or condition in a fetus or in a pregnant woman; RhD genotyping or carrier status in a pregnant woman; and the genetic carrier status of a prospective mother and her male partner.

Worthington this week declined to provide an update regarding specific progress of that collaboration, citing confidentiality agreements. However, he noted that the deal may only represent the tip of the iceberg for the company when it comes to applying its technologies for in vitro diagnostic applications.

Specifically, Worthington noted that Fluidigm's sale of an Access Array and EP1 system to the Munich Leukemia Laboratory, where researchers are coupling the platforms with Roche 454 GS FLX and GS Junior sequencers, is another example of how Fluidigm's platforms might be useful in diagnostic applications (PCR Insider, 11/18/2010).

"We are always looking at [clinical applications]. There are a lot of applications for the [Access Array] platform in that area," he said. "We’re also very interested in applications for single-cell genomics — things like circulating tumor cell stratification based on gene expression profiling."


Have topics you'd like to see covered in PCR Insider? Contact the editor at bbutkus [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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