Affymetrix (NASDAQ:AFFX), a company that I figured Invitrogen (NASDAQ:IVGN) or Thermo Fisher (NYSE:TMO) would snatch up after its free fall, has decided to do some acquiring of its own. Yesterday, the company announced that it will acquire privately held Panomics for $73 million in cash.

The biochip maker has the cash to burn because of a patent settlement with rival Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) at the beginning of the year, but this is still a major purchase for a company sporting a market cap of only $250 million or so. The press release was light on the details, so it's unclear whether the purchase will immediately help Affymetrix's hurting bottom line.

Like Affymetrix's purchase of USB, the main benefit from purchasing Panomics will probably come in the form of cross-selling products. Affymetrix's products look at all of the genes in an organism, while Panomics' products are designed to look at specific genes. Affymetrix will also gain access to the research labs where Panomics has placed 5,600 instruments. As someone who's worked in a lab, I can tell you it's much easier for sales reps to build a relationship with a lab that already owns one or more of its products.

Although the move may work out, I would have preferred to see Affymetrix invest the cash in its diagnostic-test business. As companies such as Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ:MYGN) and Genzyme (NASDAQ:GENZ) have shown, there's big money to be made in the field, and a few companion tests for blockbuster drugs could do wonders for Affymetrix's growth.

I'll reserve judgment on whether Affymertix is a dreadful stock to avoid or an ugly stock that's providing a great opportunity to invest until after the company gives us a little more information in its fourth-quarter conference call on how much Panomics will contribute to revenue and earnings. Until then, Affymetrix remains in the wait-and-see category.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., has given more sales reps the cold shoulder than he cares to count. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Illumina is a Stock Advisor selection. The Fool has a disclosure policy.