Sequenom tumbles on test payment concerns

Sequenom says coding and billing issues hurt revenue in 2nd quarter, shares skid

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Sequenom Inc. reported disappointing second-quarter results Wednesday, saying it is having problems collecting revenue for its diagnostic tests because of changes made by Medicare and health insurers, and its shares plunged in after-hours trading.

The San Diego company said billing code changes made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and insurers have caused delays: it said most state Medicaid plans haven't implemented the new codes and in some cases they're no longer covering some tests. Sequenom also said it switched to an in-house billing provider during the second quarter, and collections were lower than expected.

Shares of Sequenom dropped 31.8 percent, or $1.49, to $3.20 in late trading. The stock added 4 percent during regular trading.

Sequenom took a quarterly loss of $31 million, or 27 cents per share, for the quarter ended in June. A year ago it lost $29.6 million, or 26 cents per share. Revenue jumped 91 percent, to $34.9 million from $18.3 million.

Analysts were expecting a loss of 21 cents per share and revenue of $46.8 million, on average, according to FactSet.

The company said it ran 46,700 diagnostic tests during the quarter, twice what it ran a year ago. In the latest quarter it ran 38,000 MaterniT21 tests, almost triple its year-ago total. MaterniT21 is a 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 into pregnancy.

The company said MaterniT21 testing rose 9 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013, compared to 40 percent growth from the fourth quarter to the first quarter.

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