Pacific Biosciences Surges on New System

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Pacific Biosciences of California Inc. (NASDAQ: PACB) was surging in the market on Thursday despite a sharp downturn in the health care sector over the past quarter. The company announced a new nucleic acid sequencing platform, called the Sequel System.

This new system provides higher throughput, more scalability, a reduced footprint and lower sequencing project costs compared to the RS II System, while maintaining the existing benefits of the company’s SMRT Technology.

Pacific Biosciences will showcase the new product at the American Society of Human Genetics annual meeting taking place in Baltimore, Md., beginning October 6.

The core of the Sequel System is the capacity of its redesigned SMRT Cells, which contain one million zero-mode waveguides (ZMW) at launch, compared to 150,000 ZMWs in the PacBio RS II.

The Sequel System occupies a smaller footprint — less than one-third the size and weight — compared to the PacBio RS II. Since the new system is built on the company’s established SMRT Technology, most aspects of the sequencing workflow are unchanged.

Michael Hunkapiller, Ph.D., CEO of Pacific Biosciences, said:

We are extremely proud to introduce the Sequel System, which provides access to the existing benefits of SMRT Sequencing, including long reads, high consensus accuracy, uniform coverage, and integrated methylation information — a set of core attributes first pioneered with the PacBio RS. The system’s lower price and smaller footprint represent our continued commitment to leveraging the scalability of our technology and the unique characteristics of SMRT Sequencing. Moreover, with its lower cost of goods (approximately a quarter of that of the PacBio RS II) we expect to be able to achieve substantial gross margin improvement and move more quickly toward profitability.

So far in 2015, Pacific Biosciences has vastly underperformed the market, with shares down 53% year to date, and down 25% in the past 52-weeks.

Shares of Pacific Biosciences were up 52% to $5.57 on Thursday afternoon. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $7.50 and a 52-week trading range of $3.58 to $8.78.

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