Illumina elucidates the human genome. The firm makes tools used by life sciences and drug researchers to isolate and analyze genes. Its systems include the machinery and the software used to sequence pieces of DNA and RNA, and the means to put them through large-scale testing of genetic variation and biological function. Its proprietary BeadArray technology uses microscopic glass beads which can carry samples through the genotyping process. The tests allow medical researchers to determine what genetic combinations are associated with various diseases, enabling faster diagnosis, better drugs, and individualized treatment. Customers include pharma and biotech companies, research centers, and academic institutions.
Though Illumina's expensive analysis systems are its primary focus, sales of such systems account for only about one-quarter of revenues, while the related consumables (chemical reagents, flow cells, and BeadChip microarrays) account for more than 60% of annual sales. Products are marketed directly and through independent distributors to life science researchers in medical, forensics, agriculture, and animal health industries around the globe.
For customers who choose not to buy its systems and consumables, Illumina offers outsourced life science research services such as genome sequencing and genotyping array services. Customers for such services include schools, agricultural and energy biotech research firms, and drug development companies. In addition, the company has a consumer genomics unit (launched in 2009) to meet the growing demand for personal genome sequencing through physician intermediaries. And while most of the company's revenues come from providing life sciences equipment and services, Illumina has also established a small business in the field of molecular diagnostics, which uses genetic biomarkers to diagnose clinical health conditions.
Illumina gets about half of its annual revenues from sales in the US market. Other key regions include Europe (25% of sales) and Asia/Pacific (20%). The company has increased revenues across all geographic markets in recent years, with sales in the Asia/Pacific region in the lead.
Illumina has steadily augmented its life sciences product lines, and has experienced rapidly climbing revenues in recent years as a result. The company reported a 24% increase in sales in 2013 to some $1.4 billion due to increased instrument sales (due to new product launches) and consumable sales (driven by a higher base of installed equipment), as well as a rise in its sequencing services segment. However, profits dropped by more than 15% to some $125 million that year due to increased operating expenses from sales and marketing efforts and R&D programs as Illumina continues to invest in the growth of the business.
Illumina makes significant investments in research and development to make its systems faster, more advanced, and more affordable. In early 2014 it upgraded its HiSeq X Ten and NextSeq 500 platforms with improved technology. In 2013 the company introduced a simpler gene sequencing panel and a new genome sequencing technology to help doctors identify genetic causes for rare or undiagnosed diseases, among other products.
Illumina is also focused on expanding use of its genomics products into reproductive health, oncology, and other clinical and research markets. It has several products in the pipeline for 2014 to address these markets.
In 2012 Illumina's board of directors rejected two hostile takeover bids from Swiss drugmaker Roche, one for $5.7 billion and the second for $6.7 billion. After shareholders further rejected Roche's attempt to elect members to Illumina's board, Roche -- which is looking to expand in the life science research and molecular diagnostics industries -- stated that it would not extend or raise its offer.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Acquisitions that have enhanced Illumina's offerings include the 2013 purchases of NextBio (clinical and genomic informatics), Advanced Liquid Logic (digital microfluidics and liquid handling), and Varinata Health (which markets the verifi prenatal test for high-risk pregnancies). In 2012 Illumina also purchased UK-based BlueGnome to expand its reproductive health screening offerings.
Illumina bought Epicentre Biotechnologies in early 2011, adding the Nextera line of nucleic acid sample preparation reagents and enzymes used in sequencing and microarrays.