NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Biocept reported after the close of the market on Wednesday that its fourth quarter revenues fell 23 percent year over year, largely due to a drop in sample accessions compared to same quarter last year.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, the company reported that its Q4 revenues fell to $995,226, compared to $1.3 million for Q4 2016. This included $61,000 from development services testing and $935,000 from commercial tests.
The firm accessioned 1,057 total samples compared to 1,175 total samples accessioned in Q4 2016. Biocept said that 982 of the commercial samples it tested were billable compared with 1,101 billable samples in same period last year.
"Due to a slight decline in year-over-year sample volume for the fourth quarter, we have taken actions to refine our sales strategy that have resulted in a return to sample volume growth so far in the first quarter of 2018," Biocept President and CEO Michael Nall said in a statement. "Specifically, we evaluated billable sample volume by geography and are replacing or repositioning our sales professionals in underperforming territories."
The firm's Q4 net loss widened to $5.7 million from $4.2 million a year earlier. Its loss per share for the quarter narrowed to $.18 on 31.5 million shares of common stock outstanding compared to a net loss of $.27 per share in Q4 2016 on 15.6 million shares of common stock outstanding.
R&D expenses for Q4 2017 rose 36 percent to $908,800 from $668,399 in Q4 2016. The company said that this increase was due to higher headcount, greater consumption of materials and higher costs associated with research and development activities. The firm's SG&A expenses for the quarter rose 18 percent to $3.3 million from $2.8 million in Q4 2016.
For full-year 2017, Biocept's revenues rose 57 percent to $5.1 million from $3.2 million in 2016. This included $4.8 million in commercial test revenues and $272,000 in development services test revenues.
The firm accessioned 5,051 total samples during 2017, 11 percent more than the 4,540 samples it saw in 2016. Of these, 4,517 were billable samples, a 7 percent increase over the 4,211 billable samples it saw in the prior year.
Nall said that the increase reflects the company's capitalization on relationships with health plans and the rewards of improved billing and collection processes, and increased reimbursement for the firm's Target Selector liquid biopsy tests, which allowed a change to accrual-based revenue recognition.
One milestone during the year was Biocept's launch of a program it calls Empower TC, which allows pathologists who order the company's tests to perform certain aspects of the test in-house. On a conference call with analysts following the release of the earnings, Nall said that there has been "strong initial acceptance" of the program, and that some major cancer centers have already signed up for the services, including Scripps Health, Tennessee Oncology, and Cancer Treatment Centers of America.
He noted that Biocept's 2018 goals include expanding its agreements for Empower TC. The firm also hopes to increase test volume and revenues, and to launch sales of its blood collection tubes under a marketing agreement with global lab product supplier VWR.
Biocept also announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a collaboration with Thermo Fisher Scientific, giving Biocept access to the Oncomine molecular oncology assay panel and the ability to team up to market companion diagnostic products and services to pharmaceutical companies."
On the earnings call, Nall said that Biocept intends to validate the Oncomine panel in its CLIA lab, and to market joint services to the pharma industry using its existing Target Selector tests and the broader panel. Eventually, the company would also bring Oncomine into its clinical menu, he added.
The company is also expecting to soon begin a study — the Alchemy 009 liquid biopsy clinical trial organized by the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute. According to Nall, enrollment should start some time during Q2 2018, but the first data from the trial isn't likely to come out before 2019.
"Importantly, that's a study we earned through a [proposal] process ... and there is actually payment for our testing. So we're excited to get started, one, because we want the data, and two, because we get some commercial revenue out of it as well," Nall said.
Biocept's net loss for 2017 widened to $21.6 million from $18.4 million in 2016. Its net loss per share narrowed to $.79 in 2017 on 27.2 million shares of common stock outstanding from $1.92 in 2016 on 9.6 million shares of common stock outstanding.
R&D costs in 2017 rose 26 percent to $3.4 million from $2.7 million in 2016. The firm said this increase was due to increases in headcount, consumption of materials, and increased research and development activities. SG&A expenses for the year rose 15 percent to $13.5 million from $11.7 million the prior year, mainly due to hires that brought the firm's billing function in-house and to increases in outside service provider and consulting fees.
Biocept ended the year with cash and cash equivalents totaling $2.1 million.
The firm's shares dropped nearly 15 percent to $.27 in Thursday morning trading on the Nasdaq.