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Why Exact Sciences Doesn't Have Much to Worry About With Declining COVID Testing

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - May 13, 2021 at 7:01AM

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The company has other more significant growth drivers.

Exact Sciences (EXAS 3.58%) recently announced its first-quarter results. The company easily beat Wall Street expectations with some help from its COVID-19 testing business. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on May 5, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss why Exact Sciences doesn't have to worry too much about declining COVID-19 testing rates impacting its growth.

Keith Speights: There is another company that reported earnings, I think yesterday, Exact Sciences reported earnings and had some pretty good results there, Brian. What really stood out in your view?

Brian Orelli: Revenue increased 16%. They got a boost from COVID-19, it has a little bit of COVID-19 testing, but it's less than 10% of the overall revenue. The company isn't that dependent on the boost that it got from COVID-19.

Screening revenue which includes Cologuard and products from the acquisition of Biomatrica was up 10%. Precision oncology didn't do nearly as well, that's the Oncotype test inquired from Genomic Health. Those were up only 1% percent. Net loss for the quarter, but it was a substantial improvement from the year-ago quarter.

They lost $31 million in the most recent quarter compared to $134 million in the year-ago quarter. They announced an acquisition of PFS Genomics, the company has a test that looks at whether breast cancer patients undergoing surgery would benefit from the addition of radiation, so you've given surgery and then you either let them go or you have them do radiation and they have tests that can figure out whether it's likely that they'll benefit from radiation.

Exact Sciences has a test that's pretty similar to this. It's in their wheelhouse and that was from Genomic Health. It's the Oncotype test that looks at whether breast cancer patients will benefit from the addition of chemotherapy. I think this looks like a really good tuck-in acquisition. The salesforce can sell both of them to the same doctors, so this looks like a great acquisition.

One interesting stat from the quarter, the company did $32.2 million in COVID-19 testing in the first quarter, but it only expects to do 50 to 60 million for all of 2021. That tells you there's going to be quite a bit of slowdown in COVID-19 testing.

As you said, it's probably not going to affect Exact Sciences that much because it's less than 10% of revenue right now and it will be less than 10% of revenue later. But I think that's a big issue as we look at the earnings season coming up for the bigger COVID-19 testing players.

Speights: Brian, I'm not sure if you follow Exact Sciences all that closely, but do you have a feel at all? I mean, what's your take on their long-term growth prospects?

Orelli: I think they really need to get that Oncotype test back to growing again, and 1% is not going to justify the price they paid for Genomic Health. The 10% growth in Cologuard and Biomatrica seems pretty solid, especially with patients not necessarily going to the doctors.

I think some of that got accelerated because you can order a test. You can see your doctor virtually and they can order a test, but it's a routine test. So I think as more and more people go into their doctor just to get physicals, that they'll probably be more likely to get prescribed the Cologuard test, which tests for colon cancer without doing colonoscopy.

I think there's a lot of demand for that thing because people don't like to get colonoscopies, so I think that as people are more likely to go into their doctors, I think that we'll see ramp up in sales there. So I like the long-term prospects of the company.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Exact Sciences. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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