Thursday, June 7, 2012

GNOM: molecular future casualty

Complete Genomics (GNOM) just announced large layoffs. This isn't in any way a reflection of diminished interest in DNA sequencing, but rather a change of generations.

GNOM was built to offer genome sequencing in bulk for between $5k and $25k. Their pricing as of today is still competitive, but with innovators like Oxford Nanopore likely to drive per genome prices around $1,000, GNOM's days are numbered.

There's been some talk that the layoffs will cure what ails GNOM, that GNOM is interesting because it is trading for roughly the amount of cash on hand, and that the company could still be an attractive acquisition target. Don't believe it. Last quarter GNOM burned $15M in cash on ongoing operations. Best case scenario is that the layoffs reduce the operating cash burn by ~$6M/yr, meaning that there's still a long ways to go to being cash flow positive.

In addition, while there's some chatter that GNOM's best pricing really reflects only variable costs (i.e. no sunk/fixed costs), if this is the case, the company is losing money on each order but making it up in volume - there's no revenue upside.

Disclosure: at the time of writing, I held no shares in GNOM, or its' competitors for that matter.

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