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Sharp Increase in Guardant Health's Stock Drives 8 Percent Gain in 360Dx Index for February

NEW YORK (360Dx) – The new year continued its upward trajectory for many diagnostics firms' stocks in February as the 360Dx Index rose nearly 8 percent month over month.

This follows a strong January when the index was up 12 percent month over month.

The index outpaced the broader markets last month as the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 4 percent month over month while the Nasdaq Composite and Nasdaq Biotech each ticked up 3 percent.

The number of gainers in the index outpaced the number of decliners 23 to four, paced by Guardant Health (+65 percent), followed by Invitae (+43 percent), and NantHealth (+30 percent). Meanwhile, Opko Health (-31 percent) saw the biggest month-over-month decline.

Guardant Health's shares steadily rose throughout February, and at the end of the month, the stock received a boost when researchers from MD Anderson said they would present a study at the American Association for Cancer Research suggesting the firm's Guardant360 liquid biopsy assay prospectively enabled them to pick up more cases of actionable mutations, more rapidly, than did tissue biomarker analyses that were ordered for the same patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

The day after the report came out, Guardant's shares shot up 20 percent.

Invitae, meantime, announced in mid-February that its Q4 2018 revenues were up 78 percent year over year. The company also launched its Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening test during the month, and it ended February by announcing a partnership with BioMarin, Stoke Therapeutics, and Xenon Pharmaceuticals to expand its free genetic testing program for children with epilepsy.

There were no obvious drivers for NantHealth's rise in February, and after the end of the month, its shares continued to climb sharply. On the first day of March, the company's stock price spiked 62 percent on heavy trading, though its shares were down about 13 percent today.

The index's biggest gainer in January, Accelerate Diagnostics, whose share price increased 58 percent to start the year, continued to tick up last month though at a slower pace — its stock price grew 17 percent last month.

The index's only double-digit decliner in February was Opko. The company started out the month on a positive note when it announced that the US Food and Drug Administration had approved its point-of-care Sangia Total Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test for use on its Claros 1 Analyzer.

A few days later, Opko announced a public offering of $200 million in senior notes, and it ended the month by saying its Q4 revenues climbed 38 percent year over year. The company, however, missed the consensus Wall Street estimates on the top and bottom lines.

Meridian Bioscience, whose shares were down about 6 percent in January, making it the biggest decliner that month, rebounded partially in February as its share price rose 4 percent.