Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Twist Bioscience Corporation (TWST) Q3 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

By Motley Fool Transcribers – Aug 6, 2021 at 8:30PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

TWST earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2021.

Logo of jester cap with thought bubble.

Image source: The Motley Fool.

Twist Bioscience Corporation (TWST -1.76%)
Q3 2021 Earnings Call
Aug 6, 2021, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Welcome to Twist Bioscience's Fiscal 2021 Third Quarter Financial Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to turn the conference over to Angela Bitting, SVP of Corporate Affairs.

10 stocks we like better than Twist Bioscience Corporation
When our award-winning analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.* 

They just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Twist Bioscience Corporation wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

See the 10 stocks

*Stock Advisor returns as of June 7, 2021

Angela Bitting -- Chief ESG Officer, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs

Thank you, Valerie. Good morning, everyone. I would like to thank all of you for joining us today for Twist Bioscience's conference call to review our fiscal 2021 third quarter financial results and business progress. We did issue our financial results release this morning, which is available at our website at www.twistbioscience.com.

With me on today's call are Dr. Emily Leproust, CEO and Co-Founder of Twist; and Jim Thorburn, CFO of Twist. Emily will begin with a review of our recent progress and Twist businesses, Jim will report on our financial and operational performance. And Emily will come back to discuss our upcoming milestones and direction. We'll then open the call for questions. As a reminder, this call is being recorded. The audio portion will be archived in the Investors section of our website and will be available for two weeks.

During today's presentation, we will be making forward-looking statements within the meaning of the US federal securities laws. Forward-looking statements generally relate to future events or future financial or operating performance. Our expectations and beliefs regarding these matters may not materialize and actual results and financial periods are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. These risks include those set forth in our press release we issued earlier today, as well as those more fully described in our financials and our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The forward-looking statements in this presentation are based on information available to us as of the date hereof and we cannot at this time predict the full extent of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and any resulting business or economic impact. We disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements except as required by law.

With that, I'll now turn the call over to Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Emily Leproust.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you, Angela. And good morning, everyone. We continued our positive momentum into the third quarter of fiscal 2021 reporting increased revenue across our businesses and solid orders moving into our final quarter of the year. We remain focused on extending our customer base and driving increased revenue day-by-day across these businesses while advancing our DNA Data Storage commercialization plans.

We reported record revenue of $35 million for the quarter, an increase of 65% year-over-year. For the second quarter in a row, we have no single customer accounting for a significant percentage of our revenue. This again indicate broad and diversified strength across our businesses. And we reported $39.1 million in order. This is an increase of 58% over the third quarter of fiscal 2020, a strong signal for the remainder of fiscal 2021, particulaly as of -- sorry, fiscal fourth-quarter occurs the [Indecipherable] months which are slower for European customers.

Zooming out a bit to put into context both our current results and our future opportunities, we continue to believe in the promise of synthetic biology. The ecosystem of companies working on diversifications of Synbio provide not only validation of the industry today, but also offers incredible opportunity for the future. There will be setbacks within the industry and not every applications of Synbio will work or resonate with customers. However, wherever the science and the commercial application go, Twist provides the synthetic DNA for the research, discovery and development, as well as even production.

Essentially, we provide a [Indecipherable] for our customers who are leading [Phonetic] for goal, whether on the defined goal, we sell the tools that enable their success. There will always be end markets for picks [Phonetic] and shovels [Phonetic]. Specifically for healthcare, we see rich opportunities. At every stage of the healthcare system from diagnosis to treatment, to surveillance and prevention, Synbio has a role to play. New tests are available for a wide range of inherited diseases, we can use gene drives to eliminate mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and dengue and gene editing can be used to treat specific diseases. Comprehensively, we can use synthetic DNA to read a particular cancer mutation and then write DNA to deliver a personalized treatment. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is possible by combining synthetic biology with technology to improve healthcare.

In addition to healthcare, we see a growing customer base pursuing unique applications in a wide variety of industries, including materials, chemicals, food, farming and more. We had a vision eight years ago when we founded the company that synthetic DNA will change the world, drive new industries, and disrupt the existing market. We are delivering on the promise by building a robust and dynamic business with solid revenue growth quarter-over-quarter.

Now to drive into our results for the third quarter, starting with Synbio. We reported record revenue of $14.3 million with orders coming in at $15.7 million. We shipped 107,000 genes in the quarter as we continue to expand our customer base. We're actively preparing for the opening of our Factory of the Future with early production expected in mid calendar year '22. As the Factory of the Future comes online next year, we believe it will allow us to tap into new customers bringing their synthetic DNA products very quickly, an important next revenue to come from DNA makers into DNA buyers.

Turning to genomics and targeted NGS. We reported $18.7 million in revenue. Orders were $18.6 million for the quarter. We closed our acquisition of iGenomX, bringing multiplex library preparation tools for NGS workflow into our folder [Phonetic]. We believe this acquisition will accelerate the conversion from SNP microarray to Twist plus sequencing. We're working to -- Twist decide the product and expect to relaunch it before the end of the calendar year. In addition, we launched the SNP Diversity Panel through Regeneron line product that leverages Twist's best-in-class DNA synthesis platform to cover over a million SNPs. It can be used alone [Indecipherable] panel. This is an important panel for Twist as it provides researchers an ethnicity-neutral gold standard rather than a typical buyers of 80% with European coverage.

We have taken multiple steps to mitigate the supply chain as we discussed last quarter, including the introduction of our Enzymatic Fragmentation 2.0 Kit. This is an all-in-one solution designed to maximize accuracy and efficiency in library construction and amplification, and a nice addition to our portfolio. We launched four new positive Synthetic RNA controls for new variants of COVID, including Delta and Kappa. We continuously evolved this product line intended with new strengths. We see that our sales for controls are relatively constant over time, though sales of the controls introduced early in the pandemic have been replaced by the new controls for the latest variant.

Importantly, the emerging variants and escalating [Phonetic] cases worldwide remind us that COVID remains a public health crisis. This is likely to be the case for quite some time. We will need to learn to live with COVID, which requires both diagnostic tools and effective therapeutics that addresses a wide range of variants. The surge of variants, the lack of worldwide vaccination, and the school aged population is not eligible for vaccines. Next zooming into a very important tool to meet [Phonetic] those spreads and evolution of the virus.

For biopharma, we reported $4.8 million in orders and $2 million in revenue. This was a great quarter for biopharma. We saw a continued increase in repeat business with many of our long-standing partners. As a reminder, our biopharma revenue only includes a portion of the upfront or licensees associated with our partnerships, as we recognize revenue over the course of each project. In addition, orders directly convert one-to-one into revenue, most often in the following few quarters depending on the timeline of the projects. Milestones and royalties represent additional potential financial upside and are not calculated in orders or revenue.

During the quarter, we signed several new partners for our Twist antibody optimization solution that utilizes fully human antibody sequences. This collaboration showcase our capabilities to improve the qualities of a particular molecule. As we expand our data package with additional examples of our successful partners, we see an increasing interest in this particular platform for both humanization and affinity maturation. We do not tipically get milestones or royalties for these collaborations, and yet, we believe that it is critically important as an entry to larger partnerships with key pharma and biotech companies.

Our regulatory product, we now have 31 partners and 43 active programs, 26 of which have milestones and/or royalties associated with them. In addition, 19 programs are complete and now in the hands of our partner. In addition to the partner program, we continue to advance our internal compounds generating additional preclinical data. Concurrently, we continue to pursue many avenues to expedite the path for our Twist antibodies to reach the clinic.

Moving to Data Storage. We continue to make solid progress as we drive toward commercialization, working with a proof of principle chip at one-micron pitch. We are building an integrated chip that includes both the CMOS and lens components needed to commercialize the product for Data Storage. Once the integrated chip is working, our next step is to create an integrated alpha silicon chip, neutralizing the feature size even further. We expect that one delta chip writes genesconsistently, this chip will support our first early access commercial offering. The target customers will be those will preserve control, heritage as well as media and entertainment organization.

The DNA Data Storage alliance is now [Indecipherable] strong. There is an active website and the group released its First White Paper on the status [Phonetic] DNA data storage in June. Renewed monthly and are making great progress in educating the larger storage community on the benefit of DNA as a storage medium.

At this time, I'd like to turn the call over to Jim to review our financial results for the quarter.

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

All right. Thank you, Emily. As Emily noted, our results continued to demonstrate the advances we are making in executing our business strategy and investing in our platform. Revenue for the third quarter was $35 million, a new record for Twist and up sequentially 12% and year-over-year 65%. Orders were $39.1 million for the quarter, a sequential decline of 6% and a year-over-year increase of 58%. Gross margin for the third quarter was 40%. We shipped to approximately 1,800 customers in the quarter and approximately 2,600 customers year-to-date. And we ended the quarter with cash and short-term investments of approximately $519 million.

Now, I will provide more details on orders for our third quarter. NGS orders for the third quarter were $18.6 million and that's comparable to the second fiscal quarter and 113% higher year-on-year, this reflects our larger customer base, increasing adoption, and increasing NGS applications, including liquid biopsy, diagnostics, RNA controls and other applications, clinical operations included.

During the quarter, we received orders from approximately 700 NGS customers and the top 10 accounts placed orders of approximately $7 million as compared to approximately $8 million for the top 10 in the previous quarter, and highlighting the continued diversification of our customer footprint in quarter three. Our pipeline for larger opportunities continues to scale and we're now tracking 182 accounts, up from 170 we noted in our last earnings call and 79 have adopted Twist, which is an increase from 65 last quarter.

Now turning to SynBio. Our SynBio orders which includes Ginkgo genes, DNA preps, IgG libraries, and other good pools were $15.7 million in the third quarter, up from $14.9 million in June 2020 and down sequentially primarily due to a decline in industrial biotech orders.

Now to biopharma. Biopharma orders in quarter three were a record $4.8 million as we continue to build our pipeline of customers, projects, and opportunities. And as noted earlier, we now have 31 partners with 43 active programs and 26 of which have milestones and/or royalties. Please note, we provide orders not to directly translate into revenue, but to provide a trend line for each product group.

Now moving from orders to revenue. As noted earlier, revenues for the quarter was $35 million and brings our cumulative revenue for our first three quarters to $94.4 million, which compares to $57.7 million for the same period in FY '20, and that's approximately 64% year-over-year growth. NGS products continue to scale and climbed to $18.7 million for the quarter as compared to $9.1 million for the same quarter in the prior year. Year-over-year growth was more than doubled and with sequential growth of 10%, this reflects the expansion of our pipeline and increasing number of applications such as liquid biopsy scaling up.Our SynBio product revenue for the quarter was $14.3 million and that's up sequentially from $12.9 million last quarter and an increase from $11.8 million in quarter three FY '20. Some of the highlights include shipping to approximately 1,707 bio customers in quarter three and that's up from 1,300 in the previous quarter.

Our Q3 genes revenue was $11.2 million, sequentially up from $9.2 million and up from $9.6 million in quarter three FY '20. We shipped a record number of genes in the quarter of approximately 107,000 and an increase from 90,000 genes shipped in quarter two. Please note, as Ginkgo is now less than 10% of our revenue, we're no longer breaking out Ginkgo activity and this also highlights our growth and continued success in expanding our customer base. Biopharma, our revenue for the quarter was approximately $2 million in upfront services on our antibody project activities.

Now, I'll briefly cover our regional progress. Our investment in building out our international commercial organization capabilities is reflected in strong international growth this quarter. EMEA had another terrific quarter with Q3 revenue of $12.7 million versus $6.4 million the same period last year, and now transfers 36% [Phonetic] of our worldwide business. APAC had a strong quarter as well, Q3 revenue was $3.1 million versus $1.2 million for the same period last year. And US, revenue was $19.2 million versus $13.6 million for the same period last year.

I'll now quickly give an update on our segment revenue. All segments showed strong growth. Healthcare is now our largest segment and accounts for approximately 50% of our business with revenue of $17.4 million in Q3 versus $8.5 million in Q3 of fiscal '20. And that's reflecting strength in our NGS. Industrial chemicals was $9.4 million in quarter three as compared to $7.5 million in Q3 FY '20. Academic revenue in Q3 '20 was $7.7 million versus $4.6 million in Q3 FY '20. As we noted in the call last quarter, academic was continuing to recover or increase. Agriculture revenue was $0.5 million.

Now moving down to P&L. Our gross margin for the quarter is approximately $14 million or 40% of revenue, up from 39% in the prior quarter and up from 22% from quarter three of fiscal '20. Our operating expenses for the quarter, which includes R&D and SG&A was $54.2 million. R&D for the quarter was $19.8 million as compared to $10.4 million in the third quarter of FY '20 and $15.8 million in quarter two of FY '21. Over the last year, we have invested in our R&D resources and capabilities, and our headcount has increased to 189 from 125 in quarter three of fiscal '20. We're seeing the benefit of this investment in our product launches under innovation and consequently, a major increase in spend was compensation and also outside services primarily our data storage technology development activities.

It's worth highlighting in Q3 FY '20 this included $1.4 million of [Indecipherable] reimbursement as compared to $0.3 million in Q3 FY '21, both are netted against our R&D spend. Just quickly on the sequential growth. The increase in spend was primarily compensation and an increase in outside services of $2.3 million and that's for our Data Storage technology development activities.

Our SG&A in quarter three was $34.5 million as compared to $34.3 million in quarter two and $22.5 million in quarter three FY '20. Year-over-year SG&A expense increased by approximately $12 million due to higher compensation of approximately $7 million, which includes stock-based comp of approximately $2.7 million, and that's primarily associated with increased investment continuing to build that commercial organization and the headcount had an increase in the commercial organization to 195 and that's up from 161 in quarter three FY '20. And this includes our expansion in both Asia and EMEA.

In addition, in the quarter we incurred higher outside professional services of approximately $3 million due to audit and SOX fees as we've been continuing to invest in enhancing our control environment. Also during the third quarter, we hired Kevin Yankton as our Chief Accounting Officer. Kevin brings significant industry experience and depth of knowledge in technical accounting matters. I'm thrilled to have Kevin as parts of our finance team.

Our loss from operations before interest and taxes for the quarter was $40.2 million, which includes stock-based comp of $9.2 million and $2.7 million depreciation. Capex in the quarter was approximately $7 million, which brings total year-to-date capex to approximately $19 million. And we concluded the quarter with cash and short-term investments of approximately $519 million. As Emily highlighted, we closed our acquisition of iGenomX in June and this is reflected in our balance sheet with additional intangible assets of approximately $17 million and the balance is goodwill offset by a deferred tax liability. In April this year, we extended the lease of our Portland facility and started to record the amortization lease payments, total amount in the quarter was $0.7 million and future quarterly expenses were approximately $1 million for lease payments.

I'll provide an update to our financial guidance for fiscal 2021. As Emily noted, we are seeing strong growth in our customer base, strong market growth, and at the same time, there remains uncertainty associated with the pandemic. And we also are approaching a time of year where we have seasonality in Europe. As noted earlier, Europe is now a larger part of our revenue. However, we are increasing our revenue guidance for the year and now expect revenue in the range of $129 million to $132 million. This is up from our prior guidance of $121 million to $129 million and we're estimating quarter four revenue will be in the range of $35 million to $37.5 million.

SynBio is estimated to be in the range of $54 million to $56 million and this comprehends Ginkgo revenue. NGS revenue is estimated to be in the range of $69 million to $70 million and Biopharma revenue is estimated to be approximately $6 million. Our gross margin range for the year is expected to be between 38% and 40% as compared to 36% to 38% in our last guidance. Operating expenses, which includes R&D and SG&A are expected to be approximately $200 million for the year as compared to $192 million in our prior guidance, and this reflects higher stock-based comp charges, rental expenses for the Factory of the Future and investments in R&D and sales and marketing organizations to support growth in FY '22 and beyond.

Our R&D investments for the year is approximately $70 million, up from $66 million due to outside services primarily associated with Data Storage technology investments. Our net loss guidance for the year is expected to be approximately $150 million as compared to $144 million to $150 million in the previous guidance. Stock-based comp is expected be approximately $37 million and depreciation expected to be $10 million, and we anticipate capex to be approximately $40 million for the year.

In summary, we'd like to thank all Twisters for delivering another quarter of record growth. We're executing on our strategy, enjoying broad demand from our customer base, our new products are being well received and we're investing in our platform as we continue to tap into new revenue streams.

With that, I will now turn the call back over to Emily.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you, Jim. In conclusion, we continue to build our business, our customer base, and revenue stream. This quarter, we have accomplished a lot, even more than envisioned at the beginning of the year in the midst of COVID-19. As we move into the final quarter of our fiscal year, we expect to continue to take market share in SynBio growing more -- in the market while we prepare our Factory of the Future for production in 2022 to position us to accelerate our growth.

For our NGS tools, we'll continue to grow revenue and increase adoption as well as a number of large accounts we've funneled into the pipeline. In addition, we plan to relaunch the iGenomX library prep kit to drive some SNP microarray conversions moving into 2022. For biopharma, we intend to sign additional partnerships and add programs as well as pursue opportunities to participate in the greater share wallet and rapid clinical advancement. For DNA Data Storage, we will drive toward an alpha commercial product offering. execute on our IARPA contract, and actively advance market adoption of this new storage medium in concert with the alliance.

With that, let's open up the call for questions. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Doug Schenkel with Cowen. Your line is now open.

Doug Schenkel -- Cowen -- Analyst

Good morning, everybody. And thank you for taking my question. So on Alumina's call last night when I'm talking to them I think a little bit after the call, they talked about a lot of progress they are seeing with assay development in the industry, combined with the fact that guidelines and the reimbursement environment coming out of the pandemic -- at least we hope coming out of the pandemic, is driving increased demand for sequencing consumables within the clinical end market especially, in oncology. Based on your results in the quarter and what you talk about in terms of backlog, it sure sounds like you're seeing the same thing in your business. I just want to make sure that's the case. And if so, as we think about the implied fiscal Q4 guide, would you say the bias especially when it comes to this part of the clinical business is to the upside and then by extension, how should we be thinking about momentum as we start to look ahead to fiscal '22?

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Fine. Doug, maybe I'll start and Jim can continue. So as a reminder, so first of all, I totally agree with what you said, we see something similar. But as a reminder, there's kind of two stages with -- when we work with customers in the clinical space. The first stage is in the development of the assay. And so in that stage, customers want many different panels to try different content and that's where frankly we shine because we can make a panel very quickly and very cost-effectively. And then once the customer has finalized the content that we need, then we go into more for scale-up where the revenues can ramp. And so depending on where they are in their assay development and validation, some customers are still early in the -- trying different content and some customers are more -- are in that more skilled diversion and we are seeing strength in both areas. Jim is there anything else you like to add?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So, Doug, it's definitely an area we're seeing strength in. If you look at the backlog of the large NGS customers we're tracking over the pipeline, we're now tracking 182. So, just look back in perspective that's twice the number we're tracking approximately this time last year. Number of adopted, means Twisters signed into our assay. That's now increased to 79 as opposed to about 50 this time last year. So, we're seeing momentum in the back -- in the pipeline. Overall, we had another strong bookings quarter. The number of larger tenants is increasing so, all the signs are -- we're going to have a very -- we got strong momentum building up in this area.

If you look at our guidance for the year for NGS, we've upped our guidance again and we continue to have a very strong showing and we expect to continue to deliver strong growth in the NGS space. Hello?

Doug Schenkel -- Cowen -- Analyst

Yes. Thank you. That's [Speech Overlap] Thanks to both of you for all that. I mean I think importantly right there, when you run through all those metrics, Jim, I mean there is not a single thing trending in the wrong directions. And I say that not to be a cheerleader, I say that because I'm thinking about the outlook for fiscal '22, there is nothing you're seeing that would suggest the building momentum is going to slow.

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

And what's interesting is, if you looked at the breadth of coverage, the breadth of adoption tends to increase. I mean it has been lumpy as we've scaled. For the last two quarters in the top 10 have accounted for roughly about say 40% of our orders. And that's a really good sign. That shows the number of customers increasing, the volumes they're placing is also increasing.

Doug Schenkel -- Cowen -- Analyst

Okay. That's great. And then if I could ask, I guess -- if I could ask or actually just really talk a little bit more about something else on the biopharma side and specifically on cell lines and antibodies. Libraries of libraries is a great capability, but there does seem to be a movement toward increasingly sophisticated cell engineering efforts for antibody development and targeting. Is there any change in how you feel about your positioning in this context? If so, how does that impact existing and future partnership development efforts? And of course, embedded in this question, is really just a question about how you're thinking about your efforts to increasingly advance internal sophistication in this context. It would be great to hear about your thoughts on the competitive environment and your efforts.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you, Doug. Again I definitely agree with your assessment of the market. The great thing around cell engineering is that you need a lot of DNA and you also need DNA -- custom DNA in production if you go to a mode where every patient gets a different engineered cell, then they payload that needs to be made for each patient. And so, that means is that typically in SynBio, we only participate in the research and development. And typically, we don't participate in the production, because once you have the one genetic material, we can just propagate it by amplification. Whereas, in cell engineering, again if every patient gets their own payload, then we can participate in the production mode. And so at that point, we have the chance to not only do the R&D but also be in prefernce. Definitely, that is an opportunity for us, especially since we have a great custom genetic material payload production system. I think that's the first thing.

The second thing I'll say is around the fact that our biopharma team is kind of like the bleeding edge of science and we sell to our customers on the scientific progress that we have. And what that means is that, as our biopharma team gets dragged into cell engineering, there is a very great virtuous circle because, the biopharma team creates a tool that solves the customer problem. And then that tool to get productized and scaled up, and then becomes a tool that the SynBio team sells. And so for instance, we've seen that with IgG, high throughput IgG production. This was initially a capability that our biopharma team develops on their own because they needed it. And then when we thought it could be applicable to many other customers, we productized it, scaled it up, moved it into regular SynBio production and now Twist Biopharma is a customer of the tool, even though they were the original developer of it. Whether we can win customers and we can sell that product to many of the customers. I think something similar could happen with cell engineering as our biopharma team gets involved in that business.

Tools are going to get developed and one of the great things we do at Twist is, really scale up, industrialize those tools. So, I think we have those two good things going for us. One is we have a great platform and two is we have a -- with biopharma, mostly applied science team that is a great developer of future tools that will drive future growth.

Doug Schenkel -- Cowen -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks again. Have a great weekend.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Matt Sykes with Goldman Sachs. Your line is now open.

Matt Sykes -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Hi. Good morning, Emily and Jim, Angela. Thanks for taking my questions. Kind of similar along the lines of Doug's question. Just on the NGS business. Jim, you mentioned 182 customers are tracking and serving non-adopted customers. But I was wondering if you could give any more color on the mix between existing versus new customers? And what you're seeing in NGS? And maybe the frequency in quantity at which they're ordering?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So the mix in terms of new customers, we don't break that -- the mix in terms of new customers over the last few years, certainly expanded in terms of volume. I think the thing that is very encouraging for us as the pipeline keeps increasing, but also the breadth of the customer ordering keeps increasing. If you go back maybe a year ago, it tended to be rather lumpy over the top 10 was about 60% of the orders, other top 10 is about 40% of that. So that's encouraging sign. The number that keep adopting is increasing as well. We've now got 79 have adopted, that's up from 65 last quarter. And those assays are obviously going into production. So, as we talked about earlier, all those signs are positive. We continue to see the overall pipeline increase and the new applications such as liquid biopsy are starting to take off. Well, we don't break that out. We see a number of large liquid biopsy customers working with us. And it's certainly an exciting product for us.

Matt Sykes -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for that color, Jim. And then just on EMEA, you had a good quarter. It sounds like momentum is building there. Just maybe any of the drivers that are driving growth in that region for EMEA?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. I mean we saw SynBio's doing well. It was interesting as we had a record number of gene shipments, genes business is doing well. In terms of EMEA, we're seeing good strong NGS. We're seeing good strong SynBio orders particularly in genes with pharma. The usual suspects of large pharma in Europe. They come in with some larger orders at the end of the March quarter. So, that picked up in the revenue was interesting as book-to-bill in SynBio is still 1 for this quarter. So, good encouraging signs as we enter the summer period, but we've got lots of strong momentum in the business.

Matt Sykes -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Great. Thanks. Appreciate the color.

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay.

Operator

Thanks. Our next question comes from the line of Catherine Schulte with Baird. Your line is now open.

Catherine Schulte -- Baird -- Analyst

Hi, congrats on the quarter and thanks for the questions. Just first, last quarter, you mentioned you were experiencing some headwinds with a key supplier for NGS. Have those issues been resolved or are they still a bit constraint?

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you, Catherine, for the question. We made very good progress on that front. We have launched an additional kit that is actually an improved kit, which enables us to meet new customers to that kit for the very little constraint for new customers. For existing customers, we've moved some existing customers to the new kit, which relieved some of the pressure. So we are not completely out of the woods yet, but the team has done a great job to mitigate and we anticipate that we will be able to get more material from our supplier to accommodate the growth of -- more growth of existing customers. So we are cautiously optimistic, but that's definitely something that we keep a close watch on.

Catherine Schulte -- Baird -- Analyst

Okay, great. And how do you feel about your core synbio pricing as we stand here today? Is there a path to lowering price to unlock incremental demand or the potential for dynamic pricing based on premium turnaround times?

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

It's essentially the latter. As you know, we're making a big investment in effect for the future in Portland, and what that does is really gives us not any more capacity, but also going to give us the opportunity to add attractive features to our products, including skill [Phonetic] and so we believe that we will have the opportunity to have more dynamic pricing where there is a premium component available. And our COGS should be about the same and today there is definitely an opportunity to improve margins for the section, the segment that will get faster speed.

Catherine Schulte -- Baird -- Analyst

Okay. Great. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Vijay Kumar with Evercore ISI. Your line is now open.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my question. Maybe first one on the order trends here, the -- it looks like synbio orders were down sequentially. Is that just timing, sequentially flattish NGS orders? I was curious, I know last year, Q4, we had some timing elements. Is there something like timing element that happened in this quarter?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes, Vijay. What's interesting is that last quarter, your point is noted on the orders for synbio. One of our industrial biotech customers orders were down sequentially. Also at the end of the March quarter, we had a number of large orders from a large pharma that came in at the end of March. So those orders didn't come in June, but that's just a timing issue because of where they fell at the end of March.

In terms of NGS, we continued to build on the NGS business. We upped our revenue forecast. So we feel good about both synbio and NGS, and although the orders are worth talking about, the highest -- I would highlight that last quarter was the highest gene shipments ever, 17,000 genes with a lot of momentum in genes, number of synbio customers expanding. Gene customers increased by roughly 200. We shipped to almost 1,200 gene customers this last quarter. So we are seeing good demand from our synbio customers and it was a little bit lumpy from the March to the June quarter.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Understood. And then Jim maybe one related on the updated guidance here. For the Q4 revenues, the headline, the optics look like it's 10% growth year-on-year. Now, I know last year you had the pull forward of NGS customer. I think, adjusting for that, I'm getting to perhaps maybe in mid-30s growth for Q4. Given we've been tracking at north of 60% growth year-to-date, any reason why on an underlying basis, except one-off orders, growth should slow down here in Q4?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

The only comment I would make is, the -- we've got a lot of momentum. Europe is now a larger part of our business. So we've got to take that into account. We do also -- we also have the impact of the pandemic. If you do go back to revenue this time last year, our revenue in Q4 last year was $32 million, $32.4 million. If you take out the $9 million for the Regeneron order, you can see therefore that we're down to by $23 million. So if you look at that versus our forecast of $35 million to $37 million in the half, we're up substantially. And I mean, the only calibration I would say is that we are accommodating higher European revenues this year. We've got a broader customer base. Number of customers keep increasing and we're looking at the potential impact of seasonal implications in Europe. So I think it's just a matter of working through the summer period and the impact of the delta variant right now.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Just to clarify, Jim, the Regeneron, was that 6 or 9? I thought for some reason, I had 6 as being above plan even [Phonetic] ahead?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. So the overall Regeneron was that -- was $9 million in the quarter. I'm just clarifying how much was Regeneron last year. So three would have come in last year, correct, but six would have come in this year. So I just took it out that 2.4 less 9 just to give you a frame of reference from Q4 last year to Q4 this year.

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Understood. Thanks guys.

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Okay.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Matt Larew with William Blair. Your line is now open.

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Yes. Good morning. On the synbio side number of customers up about 30%, maybe just talk about where you're seeing the most interest from your customers. And if any of the impact from the recently launched products like DNA preps, clonal ready gene fragments IgG. Can you give us a bit of more color there?

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Yes. No, it was a strong quarter for us. Genes is a strong business, had another strong quarter. Number of genes we shipped, 107,000 was a record for us. For synbio, you just take a look at the orders. Industrial chemicals was down sequentially. And that was driven by one large customer, but overall, industrial chemicals still is a very strong business for us. Healthcare was strong in the quarter. We saw a pickup in academic and although pharma was down sequentially, that was due to number of customers that had large orders at the end of the March quarter with strong pharma quarter for synbio. So our focus on expanding customer base, targeting large pharma is working, and you can see we had record gene shipments this last quarter.

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay. And then in terms of biopharma partners, there was a big step up. I think you said the number is 31 here and it seems like maybe you're seeing an inflection point. So just curious if there's anything to call out in terms of some sort of network effect or the way the product is being received in the market.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Yes. I think -- thanks for noticing it. I'll call a couple of things. Number one, as we get more and more paid projects that get completion, we have more data that we can share in an anonymized manner, and so we have more Proofpoint and that definitely helps to get new business. Another point is we have built little bit the commercial team. So now we have boots on the ground in each region of US, EMEA, and APAC. So more people with great data.

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay. And then speaking of data -- I apologize. I cut you off there.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Yes. So we are seeing repeat business and so in a way, you get -- that's the flywheel effect of the repeat business is almost for free, and so you can compound that repeat business with new customer, and that is the results of -- and that's what we see.

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Okay, great. And then -- sorry, just last one was asking in terms of -- the white paper there was out in June in terms of DNA data storage. Just curious if there is anybody's feedback or reaction you've got from customers or potential partner -- potential customers or potential partners?

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Yeah. So I think the -- so there is a -- on the potential partners, the number of people of group's companies in the alliance keeps growing. Actually I'm losing track, but that means there's more and more partners available. So that's one aspect of it. We don't necessarily need partners. We should be able to be self sufficient, but the extended partners accelerate. We are definitely keeping our options open. And then we're going to grow partners -- and growing it, and with the white paper as the first step.

There is, I think -- the outcome that we're looking for is working, which is there is more and more realization in the minds of our customers that DNA data storage is really -- data storage coming, and so the growing mindshare that DNA data storage is something to be on the lookout for. So I think our strategy of being a leader and keeping that alliance started is working. I expect the acceleration. We're still early in the game, but I think things are definitely going into the right direction.

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Excellent. Thanks, Emily.

Operator

Thank you. Our last question comes from the line of Tycho Peterson with J.P. Morgan. Your line is now open.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hey, thanks. Want to start with maybe a higher level question just around the competitive environment. There is a wave of companies better than us around some are leveraging semiconductor, some are leveraging in thematics, some have a decentralized benchtop approach. So as you kind of look across the landscape, can you maybe just talk about how you think about competitive dynamics, how you think about pricing going forward, to what degree maybe you're evaluating some of these technologies? That might be helpful. And customer stickiness as well. I think is a question we tend to get a lot too.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Yeah. No, thank you Tycho for the question. I think we are a technology company in the high-tech field, and so I think we have a healthy dose of paranoia ourselves looking over [Phonetic] our shoulders to make sure that we are -- we don't miss anything. So from that point of view, we are definitely a student of the market and we look very carefully.

As you pointed out, there is different ways to slice and dice. One way is centralized versus decentralized and there is a company that's sitting now with [Indecipherable] decentralized offer. Frankly, we never see them in the market. So I think there's plenty of fish in the water. There's plenty of need and I'm sure there is a need for decentralized approach, but we don't see it at all impacting our customer base. Our customer base are interested in the high throughput and the dynamic throughput, and then in the low cost.

Another aspect is the enzymatic synthesis, and I think we've said in the past that our technology is compatible with enzymatic synthesis if and when it's better. I think all of those methods, they'll never be cheaper. And so I think we'll always have the cost advantage and so we are soon to the market, but at this point, we don't see a competitive pressure and frankly we are focused on executing what we are doing. I think it's ours to lose. We have our futures in our hand. And our investment in the factory of the future is a key one for us to fuel the growth and move us to the next stage.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. And then thinking a little bit on the near term, we get a number of investor questions around just the COVID opportunity. I know you're launching the RNA reference controls. Are you able to just kind of think about how you're sizing that opportunity in the near term?

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Yeah. So we've said that it's non-material, so it's less than 10% of our revenues, but it's great revenue. We love it and it's amazing margin, and we keep launching RNA controls, one, because it's useful to the scientist and the healthcare system that we are testing. And what we've seen is frankly the revenues of our early controls by and large is appealed, but the revenues from the new control have kept the momentum. And so it's a pretty stable revenue stream for us, again, not material, but I'm very glad that we have it both for the contribution we provide and the revenues it brings.

We have other opportunities. As you know through our antibodies, we contribute to the development of antibodies and I think as COVID is going to be with us for a long time, I think there is opportunity in the therapy area where they will always be people that are not vaccinated and that need therapies, and then there will always be antibodies that are needed for testing. So we keep pushing on the diagnostic and therapy axis [Phonetic] as well, as we think we have opportunity to outlicense some of the antibodies that we have found.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful. Lastly, maybe two quick ones, unrelated but I'll put them together in the interest of time. The iGenomX deal, can you just talk a little bit about what that brings to the NGS workflow for you guys? And then separately, on the factory of the future, I'm wondering to what degree you can start to kind of pre-sell some of that capacity ahead of that coming online? Thanks.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thanks. So in iGenomX, as you know, we have put a target that we want to convert the split macro market into sequencing. We think we have a unique solution there. There are proof points that it is possible. Regeneron will not have moved, if it was no cheaper to use NGS at the same time. So the proof point is there that it is cheaper. At the same time, we'll recognize that there is some buyers to switching. One is to content. Which content do I use? Because with Twist, it can be anything you want, which can be daunting. And so in that area, we have less than so the Regeneron content, which is available for sale.

And then the second friction to switching is around automation and being able to process thousands of samples a day. As you know, the ligation based process of doing a sheering and ligation, it's a very heavy process to automate. With the engineering process, we have a PCR workflow, and so that makes the automation, I don't want to say trivial, but a lot easier. And so what iGenomX brings us is a very easy to automate workflow that's based on PCR that will help us in that mid to microarray conversion.

And then on your second comment around pre-selling, of the factory of the future capacity, I'll say probably not. We know that the demand is there, but it will initially be a synbio product line. And so in that product line, people, they give us a sequence, they want the DNA now and so there is not a lot of pre-setting to be done. But at the same time, it's not a let's build it and they will come. We are pretty certain that there is a demand for it. So we're not too concerned about demand generation once the capacity is there.

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you. That's helpful.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. There are no further questions at this time. I would now turn the call back to Dr. Emily Leproust for closing remarks.

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Thank you very much and thank you for joining us today. We are -- as you know at Twist we are bridging the promise of synthetic biology and genomics with the reality of building an exciting business. We maintain our momentum moving into the remainder of the year, we have the team in place to foster innovation and hold ourselves [Phonetic] accountable to execute aggressively. We look forward to sharing our progress with you in the months ahead. And with that, this concludes today's call. Thank you very much.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 50 minutes

Call participants:

Angela Bitting -- Chief ESG Officer, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs

Emily Leproust -- Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder

Jim Thorburn -- Chief Financial Officer

Doug Schenkel -- Cowen -- Analyst

Matt Sykes -- Goldman Sachs -- Analyst

Catherine Schulte -- Baird -- Analyst

Vijay Kumar -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Matt Larew -- William Blair -- Analyst

Tycho Peterson -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

More TWST analysis

All earnings call transcripts

AlphaStreet Logo

This article is a transcript of this conference call produced for The Motley Fool. While we strive for our Foolish Best, there may be errors, omissions, or inaccuracies in this transcript. As with all our articles, The Motley Fool does not assume any responsibility for your use of this content, and we strongly encourage you to do your own research, including listening to the call yourself and reading the company's SEC filings. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including our Obligatory Capitalized Disclaimers of Liability.

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Twist Bioscience Corporation Stock Quote
Twist Bioscience Corporation
TWST
$24.60 (-1.76%) $0.44

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
351%
 
S&P 500 Returns
115%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.