Stock Market Today: Gene-Editing Specialist Precision BioSciences Goes Public

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Stocks opened higher on Thursday, then moved into negative territory around midday, but recovered in the afternoon. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) made gains despite continuing worries about global growth.

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Investor enthusiasm over gene-editing stocks may have waned a bit in 2018, but Precision BioSciences (NASDAQ: DTIL) took advantage of an IPO market that's heating up, and newly issued shares got a nice reception today. In the retail space, shares of lululemon athletica (NASDAQ: LULU) soared on strong sales gains.

Precision BioSciences makes its public debut

Investors interested in gene-editing stocks got a new option today when Precision BioSciences, a gene-editing company that is developing an alternative to the much-discussed CRISPR/Cas9 technology, went public. Shares closed up 9% from the offering price of $16 to $17.44, valuing the company at $855 million.

Precision's approach to genome editing is differentiated from that of other companies like Crispr Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, and Sangamo Therapeutics by its use of a unique DNA-cutting enzyme called I-Crel, which is found in a species of algae. Compared with techniques such as CRISP/Cas9, Precision believes its genome-editing platform built around I-Crel, called ARCUS, has higher specificity and lower risk of off-target effects, or when DNA is affected in places other than where intended.

Precision is collaborating with Shire to develop a CAR-T immunotherapy for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which will enter an early clinical trial next month. The company is also pursuing CAR-T therapies for several other blood cancers, is partnered with Gilead Sciences to develop a cure for chronic hepatitis B, and is working with privately held Cargill on gene-edited food crops.

Lululemon posts a banner quarter

Lululemon reported impressive sales and profit growth in its fiscal fourth quarter thanks to gains in both physical stores and e-commerce, and shares soared 14.1%. Revenue in the holiday quarter grew 25.8% to $1.17 billion and adjusted earnings per share soared 39% to $1.85. Analysts had expected the company to earn $1.74 per share on revenue of $1.15 billion, consistent with the raised guidance the company provided in January.

Total comparable sales grew a breathtaking 17% in constant currency, with comparable physical store sales up 7% and e-commerce sales up 39%. Online sales increased to 29.5% of the total. Gross margin improved 1 percentage point from Q4 last year to 57.3%, indicating that the company hasn't relied on discounting to make impressive sales gains.

Investors love the fact that Lululemon is making a successful transition from specialty yoga clothes for women to other categories, such as men's bottoms, outerwear, clothes suited for the office and travel, and bras. The company believes its men's business could ultimately be as big as its women's.

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Jim Crumly owns shares of GILD and SGMO. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends EDIT and GILD. The Motley Fool owns shares of CRSP. The Motley Fool recommends Lululemon Athletica. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.