Affymetrix's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Affymetrix (AFFX)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 08, 2012 5:00 pm ET


Doug Farrell - Vice President of Investor Relations

Frank Witney - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

Timothy C. Barabe - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Executive Vice President


David C. Clair - Piper Jaffray Companies, Research Division

Doug Schenkel - Cowen and Company, LLC, Research Division

Quintin J. Lai - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, Research Division

Peter Lawson - Mizuho Securities USA Inc., Research Division

Ross Muken - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Daniel L. Leonard - Leerink Swann LLC, Research Division

Nandita Koshal - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Travis Steed - Macquarie Research

Jeff Ares - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Bryan Brokmeier - Maxim Group LLC, Research Division

Rafael Tejada

Zarak Khurshid - Wedbush Securities Inc., Research Division

Ramesh C. Donthamsetty - JP Morgan Chase & Co, Research Division



Greetings, and welcome to the Affymetrix Fourth Quarter Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded. It is now my pleasure to introduce your host, Doug Farrell, Vice President of Investor Relations for Affymetrix. Thank you, Mr. Farrell, you may begin.

Doug Farrell

Good afternoon, and welcome to the conference call. At the close of the market today, we released our operating results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year ended December 31, 2011. Joining me on the call today is our President and CEO, Frank Witney; as well as our CFO, Tim Barabe. As a reminder, today's call is being recorded and the audio from the call is being webcast over the Internet on our home page at

During this call, we may make various remarks about the company's future expectations, plans and prospects that constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of Safe Harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.

Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially for Affymetrix from those projected. These risk factors are discussed in Affymetrix's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, and on other SEC reports, including our prior period quarterly report on Form 10-Q. We encourage you to review these documents carefully as forward-looking statements are made as of today's date, and we make no obligation to update this information.

So with that, let me turn the call over to Frank.

Frank Witney

Okay. Thanks, Doug, and good afternoon, everyone. Before discussing our commercial and operational progress for the fourth quarter, I'd like to take a minute to give you an update on our previously announced acquisition of eBioscience.

We remain excited about the strategic fit and positive financial impact of the combination of the 2 companies. As we've recently announced, successful completion of the transaction will require that we restructure the deal, and we are in active discussions on this front with eBioscience and our lenders.

For the purposes of this call, I do not want to speculate as to the possible elements of the restructuring or the likelihood that we'd be able to reach an agreement. I hope to be in a position later this quarter to announce a more definitive outcome and timetable.

Now I'd like to shift gears to our core business and provide an update for the fourth quarter and some comments on the year. Over the last few months, we've completed an internal reorganization into 3 business units including expression, a combined genetic analysis and clinical diagnostics unit, and life science reagents. These business units are designed to create a high level of focus on identifying and executing on opportunities in our target markets, and to create better integration with our commercial organization.

We've made significant changes to the structure of our commercial organization, and made a number of key hires, as well. This includes a new head of global commercial operations, Vice Presidents of both Global Marketing and Regulatory, as well as new commercial leadership in Europe and Japan. We're making a steady progress in redirecting the business and laying the groundwork for a return to growth.

For 2012, we are executing against the focus set of commercial goals that include: first, stabilizing our expression business. This includes arrays, low-plex solutions and single cell and tissue products. Increasing our -- secondly, increasing our market share in genotyping, particularly targeted applications. Third, building critical mass toward a market-leading position in cytogenetics. And last, driving continued growth on our life science reagents business.

I'd like to highlight some quarterly accomplishments and expectations against each of these initiatives, starting with our expression business unit. Expression constitutes about 45% of our revenue, and we took some important steps towards stabilizing the business in the fourth quarter.

One of our primary goals is to offset the decline in our IVT revenue. We intend to do this by adding new products to our array-based expression portfolio and rejuvenating our Panomics mid-plex cell and tissue assays. We anticipate that our overall expression business will decline by 5% to 10% in 2012. But we also see emerging opportunities that will help offset the decline of our IVT arrays. This is a significant challenge for us. As you're aware, we are focusing on the area with new products for preclinical and clinical applications.

And I want to give you a short progress report on some of our activities in this area. We recently entered into an exclusive agreement with Genisphere to offer the company's FlashTag Biotin reagents. These microRNA reagents enables streamlined target prep methods for high-quality and reproducibility, and strengthen our industry-leading position in array-based gene expression. microRNA is one of the fastest growing applications in gene expression, and represents an important new revenue stream for Affymetrix, one that we expect will grow significantly, as we continue to introduce new content.

These reagents are compatible with a wide variety of sample types, including formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples, FFPE, fresh frozen and whole blood. Customers tell us these reagents enable faster insight in the role of microRNAs in biological processes, such as miRNA degradation, transcriptional gene silencing, translational repression and ultimately, in biomarker discovery in our core markets of translational medicine and cancer research.

These assays require as little as 100 nanograms of total RNA, which makes them exceptionally well suited for studying cancer, where sample sizes are often limited and the samples are often degraded. In addition to the miRNA solutions, we also exclusively licensed Genisphere's powerful RNA applification technology for global expression profiling in clinically relevant samples such as FFPE. As an example, Genisphere provides this technology to Pathwork Diagnostics for their FDA-cleared array-based gene expression tissue of origin test. We expect to launch our first kits under this licensing agreement by midyear. We'll talk more about our broad range of technologies for genomic analysis and molecular diagnostics from FFPE samples over the course of the upcoming year.

Read the rest of this transcript for free on