Investors might have begun to worry that Fulgent Genetics' (NASDAQ:FLGT) freefall in recent months would never end. The genetic testing company's shares have plunged more than 50% from the highs set earlier this year.

Those worries might die down somewhat now, though. Fulgent announced its first-quarter results after the market closed Thursday. The life sciences stock jumped close to 4% in after-hours trading. Here are the highlights from Fulgent's Q1 update.

Genetic researchers in a lab.

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

How does a more than 4,500% year-over-year revenue increase sound? That's what Fulgent reported in Q1 with revenue totaling $359.4 million compared to only $7.8 million in the prior-year period. The result easily beat the Wall Street consensus estimate of $321.5 million.

The company announced Q1 net income of $200.7 million, or $6.52 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the prior-year period, Fulgent posted a GAAP net loss of nearly $2 million, or $0.09 per share.

Fulgent recorded non-GAAP net income in the first quarter of $202.9 million, or $6.59 per share. This was a record high for the company and much better than the adjusted net loss of $996,000, or $0.05 per share, a year ago. It also trounced the average analysts' adjusted earnings estimate of $5.86 per share.

Behind the numbers

The key to Fulgent's success in Q1 was higher test volume. The company said that it delivered 3.8 million tests in the quarter, a whopping 290 times its volume in the prior-year period.

COVID-19 testing generated much of this increase. Fulgent Genetics CEO Ming Hsieh stated, "We continued to see strong demand for our RT-PCR [real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction] based tests for COVID-19." He added, "We were particularly pleased in the first quarter to announce a contract win from the Centers for Disease Control ("CDC") for our NGS [next-generation sequencing] testing for COVID-19."

Fulgent's total operating expenses more than tripled year over year to $18.4 million. It also recorded provisions for income taxes of $66.5 million in the first quarter, compared to only $34,000 in the prior-year period. But the company's enormous revenue growth more than offset those increases, resulting in significant improvement on its bottom line.

Looking ahead

The company expects second-quarter revenue of around $200 million. It also raised its full-year revenue guidance to $830 million from $800 million. Fulgent anticipates that around $100 million of its 2021 revenue will stem from NGS testing with the remaining $730 million from RT-PCR-based testing. Non-GAAP earnings for full-year 2021 are expected to come in at around $12.50 per share.

Fulgent realizes that the COVID-19 momentum isn't likely to be sustainable for too much longer. CFO Paul Kim said, "We remain focused on driving momentum in our non-COVID business as vaccinations continue to be administered and we begin to see some return to normalcy in our everyday lives."

Don't be surprised if the company uses its cash stockpile to fund an acquisition in the near future. Hsieh has stated in the past that Fulgent would like to expand further into Asia and Europe and beef up its diagnostic and screening capabilities.

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.