What happened

Shares of Fluidigm (FLDM 0.79%) were sinking 18.1% lower as of 11:28 a.m. EST on Thurday. The big decline came after the biotechnology tools provider announced its fourth-quarter results following the market close on Wednesday.

So what

Fluidigm reported that its revenue in the fourth quarter jumped 38% year over year to $44.6 million. This result was well below the average analysts estimate of $50.7 million. The company posted an adjusted net loss of $9.8 million, or $0.13 per share. This was worse than the consensus estimate of a loss of $0.07 per share.

Investors were likely especially concerned about Fluidigm's full-year 2021 guidance. The company expects revenue of between $140 million and $150 million. The midpoint of that range is well below the average analyst estimate of $198.3 million. 

A gloved hand holding a swab in a person's mouth

Image source: Getty Images.

Despite the top- and bottom-line misses in Q4 and the disappointing guidance, there were some positive things about Fluidigm's latest update. The company's revenue in Q4 was the highest in its history. Fluidigm has seen robust demand for its saliva-based COVID-19 tests. Its outlook for 2021, while not meeting Wall Street's hopes, still reflects solid revenue growth and an improving bottom line.

Now what

The most important wild card for the healthcare stock going forward is how long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts. Fluidigm's growth in a post-pandemic world will likely taper off. This means that the company's other areas of focus, including technologies for cancer, immunology, and immunotherapy research, will likely again become Fluidigm's top priority in the future.