Qiagen (QGEN -0.76%) is definitely an outlier so far in 2020. While most stocks have struggled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Qiagen's shares have marched upward throughout much of the year and are now up 24% year to date.

The molecular diagnostics company announced its first-quarter results after the market closed on Wednesday. Here are the highlights from Qiagen's Q1 update.

The Qiagen logo on a white flag

Image source: Qiagen.

By the numbers

Qiagen reported first-quarter revenue of $372.1 million. This reflected a 7% increase from the prior-year period's revenue total of $348.7 million. It also handily beat the average analysts' Q1 revenue estimate of $344.9 million.

The company announced first-quarter net income of $39.8 million, or $0.17 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Qiagen's GAAP earnings in the prior-year period totaled $29.5 million, or $0.13 per share. 

Qiagen posted Q1 adjusted net income of $78.6 million, or $0.34 per share. This result was significantly better than the company's adjusted earnings of $62 million, or $0.27 per share, in the same period in 2019 and was well above the consensus Wall Street estimate of $0.27 per share.

Behind the numbers

There was one overriding factor behind Qiagen's growth in the first quarter: demand for its COVID-19 tests. In particular, the company saw strong instrument sales growth of 32% year over year on a constant-currency basis. Consumables and related revenue, which generate 88% of Qiagen's total sales, increased by 6% on a constant-currency basis, fueled by demand for COVID-19 testing.

Qiagen reported that all regions delivered growth in the first quarter. The company's Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) region led the way, with year-over-year growth of 22% on a constant-currency basis. Sales in the Americas and Asia-Pacific/Japan regions each increased by 3% year over year.

The company also saw solid sales growth across all customer classes. Sales to life sciences customers, which represent 53% of Qiagen's total revenue, jumped 10% year over year on a constant-currency basis. Sales to molecular diagnostics customers increased by 7% year over year, driven largely by higher instrument demand in the EMEA region and COVID-19 testing.

Looking ahead

Qiagen expects net sales growth of at least 12% in the second quarter on a constant-currency basis. It also projects adjusted earnings per share in Q2 of at least $0.40. The company thinks strong demand for COVID-19 testing will more than offset lower sales in other areas that could be negatively impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Like many companies in the healthcare sector, though, Qiagen isn't sure how the rest of 2020 will unfold. The company thinks the growth trends in the first half of the year will continue in the second half, but Qiagen suspended its full-year outlook because of the uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Qiagen is ramping up its production capacity to make 50 times more viral RNA extraction kits. It's also researching other COVID-19 tests as well as working to create tools for assisting with the development of potential COVID-19 vaccines and treatments.