Business as Usual
Bio-Rad continues to turn in a steady performance. In 2011, Bio-Rad registered net income of $178.2 million on sales of $2.037 billion. The company reported Q1 2012 EPS of $1.09, $0.02 lower than analyst estimates. According to I/B/E/S Estimates, analysts are expecting the company to report revenue of $2.138 billion for fiscal 2012, Reuters reported. “While we are off to a little bit of a slow start for the year, our outlook remains positive,” Schwartz commented.
Bio-Rad can capitalize on the growing demand for using mature technologies for new applications. For example, it has seen increased sales of its protein-expression analysis products as researchers need tools to validate gene-expression data.
Bio-Rad is hardly acting like a company that isn’t pursuing its own independent future. The company borrowed about $200 million in 2010 intended, it said, for acquisitions, working capital, and general purposes.
In October 2011, Bio-Rad purchased QuantaLife, developer of the Droplet Digital™ PCR (ddPCR) technology, for $162 million in cash plus potential future milestone payments. With the QuantaLife acquisition, Bio-Rad moved into the dPCR world, making it one of a few companies that offer the advanced technology.
On April 2, RainDance Technologies unveiled its RainDrop™ Digital PCR System, and Fluidigm is the original marketer of a dPCR system in 2006. On May 7, Fluidigm said that it would offer unrestricted sales of its digital PCR and other advanced technology as a result of the termination of the collaboration with Novartis Vaccines & Diagnostics.
Leonard told GEN that the QuantaLife acquisition makes sense, since it complements Bio-Rad’s existing PCR technology. “The sales channels will be very similar,” he said, also noting that dPCR is the coming trend. “While it is still in its early days, people think it could be a growth driver in the PCR universe. RainDance has just launched an instrument, and Fluidigm has had theirs back since Novartis declined its option.”
Like conventional PCR, dPCR is used to directly quantify and clonally amplify nucleic acids. Also like conventional PCR, dPCR carries out one reaction per single sample. But in dPCR, a sample is partitioned so that individual nucleic acid molecules within the sample are localized and concentrated within multiple separate regions. As a result, each part will contain “0” or “1” molecule, or a negative or positive reaction, respectively. After PCR amplification, nucleic acids may be quantified by counting the regions that contain PCR end-product, or positive reactions.
The method has been successfully used for studying variations in gene sequences such as copy number variants, point mutations, and is also routinely used for clonal sample amplification of samples for next-gen sequencing.