Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) CEO Francis deSouza spoke at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco on Monday after the market closed. You only have to look at how the gene-sequencing leader's stock performed on Tuesday to know how his presentation was received: Illumina's share price jumped around 7% in early trading.
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It wasn't just that deSouza gave a good talk. He also announced plenty of good news. Here are five key reasons Illumina stock enjoyed a big bounce as a result of the company's presentation at the J.P. Morgan conference.
1. Positive financial preview
Even before the J.P. Morgan conference, there wasn't any doubt that Illumina had a great year in 2017. Francis de Souza provided more evidence of the fantastic performance by announcing that fourth-quarter revenue should be around $775 million -- a 25% year-over-year jump. He said full-year 2017 revenue should increase by 15% from the prior year to around $2.75 billion.
De Souze also gave a positive outlook for 2018. Illumina projects revenue of roughly $3.12 billion, which reflects a year-over-year increase of close to 13.5%. The company expects GAAP earnings between $4.14 and $4.24, with adjusted non-GAAP earnings of $4.50 to $4.60. Wall Street analysts consensus estimate of Illumina's 2018 earnings was $4.49, below the low end of the company's guidance.
2. Sustained momentum for NovaSeq
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It's not too difficult to figure out why Illumina's outlook is so good. De Souza said the launch of NovaSeq continues to exceed expectations. The company has shipped around 285 NovaSeq units so far to approximately 150 customers across the world. Around one-fourth of those customers are either new to Illumina or desktop conversions, indicating that NovaSeq is expanding the company's market.
De Souza reiterated that Illumina expects NovaSeq to have a multiyear adoption cycle. The company expects most of the 850 or so customers that currently use Illumina's HiSeq X sequencing system to convert to NovaSeq. In addition, Illumina thinks that more new customers will purchase NovaSeq, especially as costs for sequencing genomes come down.
3. Launch of iSeq
NovaSeq isn't the only new product generating excitement for Illumina. The company announced a new desktop system called iSeq. De Souza stated that iSeq has an accuracy rate of 99.8%. The system sells for less than $20,000 and begins shipping in the first quarter this year.
This launch is yet another way that Illumina hopes to expand its market. The company estimates that there are upwards of 50,000 potential customers for iSeq, including 35,000 who are new to next-generation sequencing.
4. Growth in key new markets
Illumina has tremendous potential in key new markets, according to de Souza. He said the consumer genomics business has reached a point of inflection, with over 7 million consumer samples sequenced or genotyped in 2017. Illumina's consumer genomics customers are some of the biggest names in the market, including Ancestry, 23andMe, and Helix, a company formed by Illumina.
De Souza also said that clinical genomics had a "watershed year." Several products relying on clinical genomics won regulatory approval, including Foundation Medicine's FoundationOne companion diagnostic test for solid tumors. Foundation Medicine uses Illumina's sequencing systems, as do several other large biotechnology companies.
5. New partnership
One other announcement made at the J.P. Morgan conference was Illumina's partnership with Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO). The two companies inked a deal that enables Illumina to sell Thermo Fisher's Ion AmpliSeq technology to researchers who conduct scientific studies on Illumina's next-generation sequencing (NGS) platforms.
This is a great example of "coopetition." Thermo Fisher markets the Ion Torrent sequencing system, which competes against Illumina's products. However, AmpliSeq is the best-in-class amplicon technology for capturing DNA and RNA from minute amounts of samples. Illumina will sell the product directly to customers under the name "AmpliSeq for Illumina."
In my view, Illumina appears likely to continue to succeed in the future -- and not because of any of the five reasons listed above. Instead, I think Illumina's best days are ahead of it because of what the five items reflect about the company's commitment to innovation.
NovaSeq, iSeq, consumer genomics, clinical genomics, and even collaborating with a rival show that Illumina is attuned to what customers need. A company that consistently anticipates and meets customer needs will probably be successful over the long run. That's what makes Illumina a great stock to own.
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