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Quidel Guides for Revenues Below Street Estimate, Citing Softening SARS-CoV-2 Test Demand

NEW YORK – Citing a significant softening in SARS-CoV-2 testing demand, Quidel on Wednesday issued first quarter and full year 2021 guidance well below average analysts' estimates. Quidel CEO Douglas Bryant made the announcement at a presentation at the Barclay's Global Healthcare Conference.

Quidel guided for Q1 revenues of $450 million and full-year revenues of approximately $2.5 billion. Wall Street had estimated, on average, first quarter revenues of $755 million and full year 2021 revenues of $2.9 billion.

Quidel's stock on the Nasdaq tumbled following the guidance, closing the day down nearly 17 percent at $130.01.

Bryant said that demand for testing in February and so far in March has "softened significantly," down as much as 40 percent compared to the fourth quarter. Quidel had a fivefold increase in revenues in Q4 2020 compared to the previous year.

In 2020, Quidel attained the status of a billion dollar company, with revenues of $1.6 billion. The end of the year also saw a spike in SARS-CoV-2 prevalence as well as high demand for testing from what Bryant called "the worried well," or people who requested testing for mild symptoms but did not have coronavirus.

Also, "Because of people being concerned about allocation and receiving product, and not knowing how long this was all going to last, you had very large customers and distributors ordering large volumes of product" in Q4, Bryant said.

The $400 million difference in full year estimates was attributed to a decrease in symptomatic testing and product in the channels that has not yet been used.

The new guidance is also conservative, Bryant also said, as it does not incorporate a number of potential upsides. 

These upsides include increased demand from employers and schools for the firm's prescription use-only QuickVue self-test, a potential to increase manufacturing capacity faster, the possibility of selling tests outside of the US, a possible increase in infection prevalence, and less than perfect efficacy of vaccines sustaining testing demand.

In Thursday morning trading on the Nasdaq, Quidel stock was up 4 percent to $135.06.