Pacific Biosciences' IPO Meets Warmer Reception Than Traditional Drug Developers

Includes: ILMN, PACB, TMO
by: The Burrill Report

By Marie Daghlian

Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ:PACB) completed its initial public offering Tuesday to begin trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “PACB.” The company sold 12.5 million shares of its common stock at $16 per share, in the middle of its expected range, to raise $200 million. Trading opened at $16.50 a share, up 3 percent post-IPO.

It’s interesting to note that Pacific Biosciences is not like the traditional drug developers that have recently gone public to weak receptions from risk-averse investors. It is much more a technology play. Pacific Biosciences makes third-generation DNA sequencing machines that it will sell to other companies. The Menlo Park, California-based company’s technology platform provides real-time analysis of biomolecules with single molecule resolution, enabling a deeper understanding of biological systems.

According to its prospectus, PacBio has instituted a limited production release of its PacBio RS system and received 11 orders from customers that include genome centers, clinical, government and academic institutions and an agricultural company. Monsanto (NYSE:MON) made a strategic investment in the company in 2009. All orders are expected to be filled by the end of the year, from which the company expects approximately $15 million in revenues. Commercial production is expected to begin in 2011.

Pacific Biosciences will have its work cut out for it. Complete Genomics, its Bay Area competitor, has developed its own third-generation sequencing technology, but offers sequencing services rather than selling the systems outright. Complete Genomics filed to go public in late July and is expected to go public before the end of the year.

Established sequencing companies Illumina (NASDAQ:ILMN) and Life Technologies (NASDAQ:LIFE) haven’t been standing on their laurels either. Both have been developing faster sequencers. Life recently paid $350 million for Ion Torrent, for its third generation sequencing technology, with a potential payout of an additional $300 million to Ion Torrent’s investors.

Underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 1.9 million shares to cover over-allotments, if any. J.P. Morgan Securities and Morgan Stanley were the joint book-runners for the offering with Deutsche Bank Securities and Piper Jaffray acted as co-managers.