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Complete Genomics cuts jobs, starts review

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) -- Complete Genomics Inc. said Tuesday that it's laying off about 20 percent of its workforce in order to cut costs and has hired a financial adviser to help it explore "strategic options," including a possible sale of the company.

The news sent Complete Genomics shares up 16 cents, or 7.8 percent, to $2.20 in premarket trading.

The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., sells technology that can sequence human DNA for research purposes. It said it plans to focus on developing clinical applications for its whole human genome sequencing service, while continuing to provide genomes to research customers.

The company said it is delaying expanding its monthly genome capacity until customer demand increases. As a result, it plans to eliminate about 55 jobs in Mountain View and elsewhere in the U.S. The company had 255 employees at the end of 2011.

Complete Genomics also hired Jefferies & Co. as a financial adviser and to assist in its review of strategic alternatives, which could include combining with another company, an equity investment, or a sale of the company

Complete Genomics went public in November 2010 at $9 per share. Its shares have dropped 88 percent over the past 12 months. William Blair analyst Amanda Murphy said in a research note last week that the company was dealing with pressure on pricing in the whole genome sequencing market, and it has not been able to sign many large orders for genomes. Meanwhile, its costs are rising due to investments in new technology.

Most of Complete Genomics' job cuts are expected to take place during the current quarter, which ends on June 30. The company estimated its restructuring and related costs at about $1.5 million, which includes severance pay for the workers whose jobs are being eliminated.