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Stocks of Research Tools, MDx Vendors Hit Hard in February

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The stocks of most of the 38 firms that comprise the GenomeWeb Daily News Index fell during the month of February, mirroring a drop for the tech-heavy Nasdaq market.

Overall, only nine of the companies in the Index closed the month up compared to January's close. Orchid Cellmark gained around 30 percent to close at $.70, while other notable gainers included CombiMatrix (+15 percent), Illumina (+15 percent), and Life Technologies (+14 percent).

CombiMatrix has yet to report its fourth-quarter financial results, but the firm last week presented positive preliminary data on studies of its miRNA test for early detection of cancer.

Early in February, Illumina reported a 43 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenues. The firm also guided for revenue growth for full-year 2009 of between 20 percent and 26 percent, bucking the trend among many research tool vendors of guiding for flat or low single-digit growth.

Among the 29 stocks that lost ground for February, four of them declined more than 30 percent. Helicos BioSciences had the steepest drop, falling 40 percent for the month. Meanwhile, Sequenom tumbled 34 percent for the month, Affymetrix fell 33 percent, and Caliper declined 30 percent.

With an additional decline of around 8 percent today, Sequenom's shares were trading at $13.50 in late Nasdaq trade — nearly half off its high earlier this year (Jan. 22) of $25.99.

Likewise, Affy's shares have lost more than half their value since closing at $4.16 on Jan. 28, the day it reported that its fourth quarter revenues had fallen 27 percent. It also took a $239.1 million charge for impairment of goodwill and a restructuring charge of $14.3 million for that quarter. Affy's shares closed down 12 percent on Monday at $1.88 on the Nasdaq.

Overall, the GWDN Index finished the month down 6 percent. However, it did outperform the Nasdaq, which lost 7 percent; the Nasdaq Biotech Index, which fell 11 percent; and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tumbled 12 percent for February.

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