Whenever I see a stock trending on the r/WallStreetBets subreddit, I get suspicious. Anyone can post there. They can say anything. There’s the reputation for pushing short-squeezes on failing companies. There’s just no credibility.
Case in point, a small company called Bionano Genomics (NASDAQ:BNGO), which in February got a push from the WSB crowd. It started as BNGO stock was selling at about $10 a share. It quickly jumped to $15. Then it fell, to as low as $4.40 in May. It closed June 21 at about $7.22.
It’s still not huge, a market cap of $2.01 billion. But this is also, still, a small company, with March quarter revenue of just $3.1 million.
Bionano is a complete speculation. Is it a worthwhile one?
What Redditors Got With BNGO Stock
Bionano is built around a device called Saphyr. It does optical genome mapping and costs about $150,000. Then there are “consumables,” reagents for making tests. Bionano also sells testing as a service at about $1,000 per test.
Saphyr does not yet have FDA approval, although that doesn’t matter outside the U.S. It’s used in cytogenetics research, a market that management thinks could be worth $700 million to $1 billion/year.
BTIG, a Singapore-based investment company, began flogging Bionano recently. Analyst Sung Ji Nam, who has dozens of buy recommendations out on various biotechs, wrote that Saphyr promises “higher accuracy and superior workflow efficiency” when compared with other mapping techniques. She highlighted three recent overseas contracts and a California study that spotted 18% more genetic diseases than conventional testing.
This means it’s not just the pajama traders who think Bionano has something. All four analysts following BNGO stock as tracked by Tipranks have it rated as a buy, with a price target of $11. That’s 51% higher than its present price, although still well short of where the Reddit speculation took it.
Bionano only came public at the start of the year and currently trades near the level of its first trade.
The March quarter report looked good, although the numbers we’re talking about are small.
The company reported product sales of $2.05 million, which comes to a little over a dozen machines. Services and reagents brought in another $1.11 million.
But Bionano is still burning cash. It spent $2.67 million on research during the quarter, and another $9.5 million on selling and administration. The net result was a loss of nearly $10 million, but that was just 4 cents per share. Bionano had 263 million shares outstanding after going public.
The good news is Bionano now has $362 million in cash, and less than $15 million in long-term debt. The bad news is that you’re paying over 160 times revenue. Even with a 162% growth rate, that’s rich. If Bionano hits its target of installing 150 systems this year, that’s still just $22.5 million. Even the most optimistic analyst sees revenue of $36 million for 2022 and continuing losses.
The Bottom Line
Bionano is on the cutting edge of the DNA sequencing market. This is indeed a huge opportunity, as DNA evolves into something like a programming language. Within its niche, Bionano faces strong competition from companies like Pacific Biosciences (NASDAQ:PACB).
I would like to see more than a short squeeze before recommending a stock. Our Muslim Farooque is hesitant to step in at Bionano’s current price.
My view is that if you believe Bionano Genomics has a viable solution and can sell in quantity, the current price of the stock is irrelevant. The problem is that I don’t know the answer to that question.
As I said at the onset, this is pure speculation. But unlike most of what I see on Reddit, it’s not unreasonable speculation. Throw some money at Bionano if you want but know it will take years to learn whether you’ve hit bingo on BNGO.
On the date of publication, Dana Blankenhorn did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a financial and technology journalist since 1978. He is the author of Technology’s Big Bang: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow with Moore’s Law, available at the Amazon Kindle store. Write him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at @danablankenhorn. He writes a Substack newsletter, Facing the Future, which covers technology, markets, and politics.