NEW YORK (360Dx) – The stock prices of most diagnostic firms in the 360Dx Index saw an uptick last month compared to February with the index gaining 4 percent in March.
Despite the index's improvement, its monthly growth slowed in comparison to February when it was up nearly 8 percent, and January when it was up 12 percent.
The index outpaced the broader markets last month, however. The Dow Jones Industrial average was essentially flat month over month, while the Nasdaq Composite grew almost 3 percent, but the Nasdaq Biotech was down about 1 percent.
The number of gainers in the 360Dx Index outnumbered the number of decliners 21 to six, led by NantHealth (+33 percent), Natera (+30 percent), and Veracyte (+24 percent). Luminex (-10 percent) GenMark Diagnostics (-8 percent), and Genomic Health (-8 percent) were the biggest decliners.
NantHealth started the month with a sharp increase in its stock value, rising 62 percent on March 1 on heavy volume, though the catalyst for the spike was unclear. At the end of the month, the firm reported a 3 percent year-over-year increase in its fourth quarter revenues. Though it slowed its cash burn in Q4 2018, CEO Patrick Soon-Shiong reiterated that reimbursement from payors remains a "conundrum" for NantHealth.
Natera, meanwhile, said in mid-March that it had inked a commercialization deal with BGI Genomics covering Natera's DNA Signatera test in China. The partners also plan to develop reproductive health tests in "select markets."
The firm also announced its Q4 2018 revenues rose 29 percent year over year and that it plans on forging deals with pharmaceutical companies for its Signatera test until it has secured coverage decisions from third-party payors. Later in the month, Natera and Amal Therapeutics said they would partner on a clinical trial for Signatera.
Last week saw a mix of bad and good news for the firm. Natera was hit with a lawsuit from CareDx and Stanford University alleging infringement of patents covering the monitoring of organ transplant rejection. But the month ended with a draft local coverage determination from a Medicare contractor covering Natera's kidney transplantation rejection test Prospera.
Meantime, Veracyte received two final LCDs from Medicare administrative contractors Palmetto GBA and Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corporation for the company's Envisia Genomic Classifier assay, which is used to clarify the diagnosis of patients with interstitial lung disease who are suspected of having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Other double-digit gainers in the index last month were Invitae (+16 percent), Guardant Health (+15 percent) and Bio-Rad Laboratories (+13 percent).
There were no obvious drivers for Luminex, GenMark, or Genomic Health's month-over-month declines in March.