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Biocept Q1 Revenues Up Dramatically as COVID-19 Testing Boost Lingers

NEW YORK – Biocept reported after the close of the market Wednesday that its first quarter revenues increased dramatically year over year, driven by the firm's current provision of COVID-19 testing.

For the three months ended March 31, the San Diego-based liquid biopsy firm generated $17.8 million in revenues compared to $1.4 million in the same period of 2020. Of this total, $16.8 million was from coronavirus tests, with the remaining $1 million coming from cancer testing revenues, an approximately 23 percent drop compared to $1.3 million in the same quarter of 2020.

Biocept also reported $39,000 in development services testing revenues and $62,000 from its distributed product business.

The firm accessioned 145,110 total samples in the quarter compared to 1,306 total samples in Q1 2020. Of these, 144,932 were billable samples compared to 985 in the prior year's quarter. These increases were primarily attributable to COVID-19 testing.

"Since we began offering [COVID-19 testing] in 2020, we have received approximately 390,000 samples, including about 140,000 samples during the first quarter," Biocept CEO Michael Nall said in a statement, highlighting the company's recent announcement that its testing has been made available through the Foundation for California Community Colleges' CollegeBuys program — to California community colleges that wish to order it.

"We expect COVID-19 testing will continue to be an important component of our business and provide meaningful revenues throughout 2021, noting our expectations might change as the pandemic evolves," he added.

During a call discussing the results, Nall reiterated Biocept's expectation that as the requirements for COVID-19 testing wane per current expectations, the firm is planning to refocus on its oncology business, especially neuro-oncology, where it is hoping to bring its first assay — a cerebrospinal fluid CTC test to detect and quantify metastases in the central nervous system — through review by the US Food and Drug Administration.

"Since the soft launch of this assay in early 2020 we have seen quarterly volume growth from an increasing number of early adopter physicians with many becoming repeat customers, and this is a trend that we expect will continue," said Nall.

According to Nall, Biocept intends to expand its CNS testing menu for additional tumor types in the future, beginning with melanoma "by year end." The company is applying for Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA and expects news on that front sometime next quarter.

Nall also announced a new agreement with Quest Diagnostics under which Quest customers in the US will have access to Biocept's next-generation sequencing lung assay test, which uses technology from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

"We expect set up to be completed in the third quarter with availability to accept orders from Quest clients to follow," he said.

Biocept reported net income of $2.6 million, or $.19 per share in Q1 2021, compared to a net loss of $8.3 million, or $1.06 per share, in Q1 2020. The company used approximately 13.7 million weighted-average shares outstanding to calculate EPS in the recently completed quarter compared to about 7.9 million shares to calculate per-share loss in the year-ago period. Biocept had undertaken a 1-for-10 reverse split of common stock in September 2020.

Its R&D expenses in Q1 were down about 23 percent to $1 million from $1.3 million in the same period of 2020, due primarily to lower facilities costs. The firm's SG&A expenses rose 45 percent to $5 million from $3.4 million, reflecting higher sales commissions associated with its boosted revenues.

Biocept finished the quarter with cash and cash equivalents totaling $14.2 million.