July 24, 2008
There's very little to complain about in Illumina's (Nasdaq: ILMN ) earnings report from Tuesday. In this market, you'll see few investors grumbling about double-digit growth.
Revenue from the biochip maker was up a scorching 66% year over year. Sales of disposables grew faster than instrument sales. In the future, this could be a problem, but not right now. The difference is likely just due to all the Genome Analyzer sequencing systems the company has been selling, and to customers using them more -- sales of sequencing disposables were up 50% over the first quarter, as customers have ramped up the usage of their newly acquired machines. However, to continue to grow sales of disposables, the company needs to continue to grow sales of the instruments, just like Affymetrix (Nasdaq: AFFX ) and robotic-surgical innovator Intuitive Surgical (Nasdaq: ISRG ) do.
Net income was also up 66% year over year, although on an earnings-per-share basis, the bottom line grew by just 44% thanks to an increased number of shares outstanding. That's the only problem with a stock on a rocket trajectory (it hit a record high yesterday) -- employees tend to cash in their stock options and dilute the current owners' equity.
Illumina also announced that it's acquiring privately held Avantome for $25 million up front and another $35 million if the company meets its goals. Avantome is a development-stage company that doesn't have any products yet, so Illumina is basically buying its sequencing technology. That seems like a good move to me, because it keeps the company on the cutting edge. This is especially important given that Illumina will be competing against a bigger rival with more resources -- Invitrogen (Nasdaq: IVGN ) announced last month that it will buy Applied Biosystems (NYSE: ABI ) .
The only thing to really find fault with here is Illumina's stock price. Having reached an all-time high, it's now trading at 54 times the middle of its newly updated profit forecast for the year. That's a lot of growth for the rest of this year built into today's stock price. Then again, we haven't seen anything less than stellar growth from Illumina, and oftentimes the seemingly overpriced growth stock ends up being a long-term winner.