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Illumina Unveils New Sequencers; Preliminary Q4 Revenues up 10 Percent

This article has been updated from a previous version to update the availability and shipping timelines for Illumina's new sequencers.

SAN FRANCISCO (GenomeWeb) – Illumina President and CEO Francis deSouza on Monday unveiled the company's two newest sequencing platforms, the NextSeq 1000 and NextSeq 2000, at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference held here.

In addition, deSouza said that Illumina achieved preliminary year-over-year revenue growth of 10 percent in the fourth quarter and 6 percent for full-year 2019.

The new sequencing platforms have been built from the ground up. "Almost everything is new," deSouza said. The company noted in a statement that they incorporate more than 75 innovations, including two brand new technologies: so-called super resolution optics and blue/green SBS chemistry that will together enable a substantial increase in density and throughput as well as a reduction in operating costs.

Further elaborating on this at the JPM meeting, deSouza noted that the super-resolution optics are capable of "breaking the diffraction limit" and are something that has not yet been achieved on any commercial sequencer. Meanwhile, the blue/green SBS chemistry allows a greater separation of signals, so they can be closer together.

Taken together, the innovations are expected to enable a greater than 30-fold increase in data density, deSouza said.

The platforms are also the first to incorporate Dragen processing on board, featuring both local and cloud-based options for run setup, management, and analysis. Sweet spots for the new sequencers will be applications like single-cell RNA-seq, circulating tumor DNA analysis, and a variety of oncology panels.

The NextSeq 2000 will have a maximum sequencing data output of 300 Gb and a US list price of $335,000 while the NextSeq 1000 will have a maximum output of 120 Gb and a US list price of $210,000. The NextSeq 2000 is now available for order and will begin shipping in Q1, and the NextSeq 1000 system will begin shipping in Q4. In addition, deSouza said that the company expects to ship approximately 500 NextSeq 1000s and NextSeq2000s over the course of the year.

"We expect both new-to-sequencing customers and existing NextSeq customers" to transition to the new platforms, deSouza said.

Illumina also said it is developing a regulated version of its high-throughput NovaSeq system to address growing demand for a diagnostic platform to support deeper sequencing at higher throughput. Commercial availability is targeted for 2022, but the platform will be available to IVD partners for content development. One of these partners will be Roche, which along with Illumina separately announced a partnership focused on developing NGS-based IVD and companion diagnostic tests.

Preliminary revenues

At JPM deSouza announced that Illumina logged preliminary revenues of about $950 million in Q4 2019 and about $3.54 billion for full-year 2019, representing year-over-year growth of 6 percent and 10 percent, respectively. The Q4 revenues of $950 million would be a record revenue quarter for the company. Analysts, on average, had expected $939 million in Q4 revenues and $3.53 billion in full-year revenues.

Illumina also provided 2020 revenue guidance of 9 percent to 11 percent growth, which is expected to be fueled by 14 percent total sequencing growth and 17 percent growth in sequencing consumables.

Meanwhile, array revenue is expected to continue to decline with a drop of about 15 percent in 2020, mainly due to softness in direct-to-consumer testing.

"We do not expect a return to growth this year" for arrays and DTC testing, deSouza said at JPM, but noted that the company is seeing signs of future growth, which is dependent on more traditional genealogy-focused companies transitioning to health-related applications.

Following deSouza's presentation, Illumina shares on the Nasdaq dropped almost 4 percent, closing at $323.15 on Monday. 

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