Why Illumina Fell Today

An analyst downgrades the maker of DNA sequencers.

Brian Orelli
Brian Orelli
Oct 1, 2015 at 3:39PM
Health Care

What: Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) fell more than 10% after the company was downgraded from outperform to market perform by Leerink Partners.

So what: Normally, you wouldn't expect a company to fall more than 10% on the downgrade by a single analyst, especially since the new price target, $185, was still 5% higher than where the stock closed yesterday.

But these aren't normal times for the biotech industry. Investors are jittery. The biotech industry had been flying high and talk of government controlling drug prices has everyone a little nervous.

ILMN Chart

ILMN data by YCharts

Illumina is down 21% since Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sent a tweet saying she had a plan to lower drug costs. And Illumina doesn't even make drugs.

Drugmakers are certainly some of its customers -- either directly by buying sequencers or indirectly by sequencing DNA through a service that buys Illumina's sequencers -- but it's a stretch to think lower drug prices, if they even come to fruition, will slow down research expenses.

Now what: Rather than worrying about when the sector rotation out of biotech will end, it seems more beneficial to focus on Illumina's core business.

Today, for instance, the company said it had made several new additions to BaseSpace, its comprehensive cloud computing environment that integrates sample setup through analysis of the genomic sequencing. BaseSpace has seen 75% year-over-year growth in new users and more than 900% year-over-year growth in app usage.

Illumina isn't going to make much money off BaseSpace directly, but the easier it makes it for users to run their samples and analyze their data, the more revenue Illumina will get from sales of reagents and companies purchasing more sequencers to handle the increased volume.

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