Exact Sciences (NASDAQ:EXAS) hasn't delivered the sizzling performance so far in 2021 that it did last year. That hasn't stopped Cathie Wood from scooping up more shares of the molecular diagnostics company for her ARK Innovation ETF (NYSEMKT:ARKK).

Wood might have an opportunity to buy more shares at a bigger discount. Exact Sciences announced its first-quarter results after the market closed Tuesday. The healthcare stock slipped around 1.5% in after-hours trading. Here are the highlights from Exact Sciences' Q1 update.

Exact Sciences' Cologuard kit.

Image source: Exact Sciences.

By the numbers

Exact Sciences reported revenue in the first quarter of $402.1 million. This result reflected a 16% increase from the prior-year period revenue total of $347.8 million. It also easily topped the Wall Street consensus revenue estimate of $388.5 million.

The company announced a Q1 net loss of $31.2 million, or $0.18 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the prior-year period, Exact Sciences posted a GAAP net loss of $134.6 million, or $0.91 per share. The average analysts' estimate was for an adjusted net loss of $1.03 per share.

Exact Sciences ended the first quarter with cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments of $1.38 billion. At the end of 2020, the company's cash position stood at $1.84 billion.

Behind the numbers

Exact Sciences makes around 60% of its total revenue from screening, including its Cologuard colorectal cancer tests and its Biomatrica products. The company recorded screening revenue in the first quarter of $240.3 million, up 10% year over year.

Precision oncology revenue totaled $129.4 million in Q1, a 1% year-over-year increase. This revenue includes sales of Exact Sciences' Oncotype tests used to optimize treatment decisions for breast, colon, and prostate cancer. The company also recorded COVID-19 testing revenue of $32.3 million in the first quarter.

There's a big asterisk with Exact Sciences' improved bottom line. The company had an income tax benefit of $242.8 million in Q1. Without this benefit, its net loss would've been much worse. That's likely why shares slipped a little despite Exact Sciences beating Wall Street estimates.

Looking ahead

Exact Sciences expects full-year 2021 revenue of between $1.69 billion and $1.735 billion. Screening revenue is projected to generate between $1.125 billion and $1.15 billion of that total. The company anticipates precision oncology revenue of between $515 million and $525 million. COVID-19 testing revenue is projected to come in between $50 million and $60 million.

CEO Kevin Conroy said, "The first quarter demonstrated Exact Sciences is well-positioned for growth today and into the future." He also hinted at the company's development pipeline, stating, "We plan to bring additional solutions to patients throughout the course of their diagnosis and treatment."

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.