Small-cap life science company Sequenom (NASDAQ: SQNM) reported its fourth-quarter earnings results after the closing bell tonight, highlighting a push toward smaller losses and lower cash burn.

For the quarter, Sequenom reported a 34% increase in revenue to $45.1 million. Its Laboratory segment delivered a 55% improvement in revenue to $32.7 million with revenue for its Down syndrome test, MaterniT21 Plus, growing to 12.5% of total Laboratory revenue from 3.3% in the corresponding period last year.

Thanks to tighter cost controls and higher revenue, Sequenom's gross margin expanded 400 basis points to 40.6%. These higher margins led to a significantly lower adjusted net loss of $18.9 million, or $0.16 per share, compared with a loss of $32.8 million, or $0.29 per share reported in the year-ago quarter.

Reduced expenses played a key role in reducing its cash burn to just $13.6 million, a 41% reduction from the fourth-quarter 2012. Research and development costs fell 31% to $9.3 million because of the completion of validation tests associate with its MaterniT21 Plus test while selling and marketing costs also fell 21% to $11.9 million.

As I've noted previously, for unprofitable health care companies remaining cash is a key figure worth watching. Sequenom ended fiscal 2013 with $71.3 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities.

Although Sequenom didn't provide revenue or EPS guidance for fiscal 2014, it did note in its earnings release that it anticipates being breakeven or positive on a cash flow basis by the fourth-quarter of 2014.