NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Sequenom Inc. jumped Monday after the company said demand for its MaterniT21 Down syndrome test is continuing to grow.
THE SPARK: Sequenom said it performed more than 4,900 MaterniT21 tests in the first quarter, and it now expects to run 40,000 tests in 2012. The San Diego previously expected to run 25,000 of those tests.
THE BIG PICTURE: MaterniT21 is a prenatal blood test intended for women who are at high risk of carrying a fetus with Down syndrome. Sequenom says the test can detect the chromosomal anomaly that causes Down syndrome as early as 10 weeks of pregnancy. It is intended to be less invasive than amniocentesis and hormone testing.
Sequenom said in March it was aiming to perform at least 25,000 billed tests in 2012, but it also said those figures should improve because it has expanded its sales force. The company is scheduled to report its first-quarter results after the market closes on May 3.
Sequenom also paid $1.3 million to buy patents belonging to Helicos BioSciences Corp.
THE ANALYSIS: Jefferies & Co. analyst Jon Wood said Sequenom's revenue is going to be uneven until health insurers and government programs formally cover MaterniT21. He does not expect that to happen until early 2013.
SHARE ACTION: Shares of Sequenom rose 36 cents, or 9 percent, to $4.35 in afternoon trading. Sequenom stock is down 24 percent since Feb. 6.