Up Nearly 15% In A Week Will Illumina Stock Continue To See Higher Levels?

ILMN: Illumina logo

Illumina stock (NASDAQ: ILMN) saw a 7% rise on Thursday, June 6, faring better than its peer — Mettler-Toledo stock (NYSE:MTD) – down 1%. The rise in ILMN stock can primarily be attributed to the company’s decision to spin off its blood testing company – Grail. Illumina acquired Grail in 2021 despite regulatory concerns and without the EU antitrust approval. The company decided to divest Grail only if neither the U.S. nor European appeals of antitrust cases challenging the acquisition were successful. The company recently announced that it has decided to proceed with the divestiture of Grail, and it should be completed by the end of this month. The street views this as a positive for Illumina as the company can put behind it the messy acquisition, which has weighed on its stock performance lately. For perspective, ILMN stock has suffered a sharp decline of 70% from levels of $370 in early January 2021 to around $115 now, vs. an increase of about 45% for the S&P 500 over this roughly three-year period.

Notably, ILMN stock has underperformed the broader market in each of the last three years. Returns for the stock were 3% in 2021, -47% in 2022, and -31% in 2023. In comparison, returns for the S&P 500 have been 27% in 2021, -19% in 2022, and 24% in 2023 — indicating that ILMN underperformed the S&P in 2021, 2022, and 2023. In fact, consistently beating the S&P 500 — in good times and bad — has been difficult over recent years for individual stocks; for heavyweights in the Health Care sector including UNH, and JNJ, and even for the megacap stars GOOG, TSLA, and MSFT. In contrast, the Trefis High Quality (HQ) Portfolio, with a collection of 30 stocks, has outperformed the S&P 500 each year over the same period. Why is that? As a group, HQ Portfolio stocks provided better returns with less risk versus the benchmark index; less of a roller-coaster ride, as evident in HQ Portfolio performance metrics.

Given the current uncertain macroeconomic environment with high oil prices and elevated interest rates, could ILMN face a similar situation as it did in 2021, 2022, and 2023 and underperform the S&P over the next 12 months — or will it see a recovery? From a valuation perspective, we think ILMN stock will likely see higher levels. The $148 average of analysts price estimate reflects over 25% upside from the current levels of around $115.

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Illumina’s revenue rose from $3.2 billion in 2020 to $4.5 billion in 2023, driven by the booming demand for gene sequencing. The company’s cancer screening and population genomics testing have also bolstered its sales growth. Illumina has a recurring revenue model from consumables and services, accounting for 84% of the company’s total sales in 2023. For Illumina, the Grail acquisition has hurt its earnings meaningfully in recent years. It recorded a goodwill and impairment charge of $4.7 billion in 2022 and $821 million in 2023 associated with the Grail acquisition. But now that the company has decided to spin off this unit, retaining a stake of 14.5% in the company, it can look forward to robust earnings growth. For perspective, Illumina is expected to see over 3x bottom-line growth to $2.48 in 2025, compared to an estimated $0.72 in 2024. Overall, we think Illumina stock is likely to see higher levels from here. It currently trades at just 4x trailing revenues, compared to the 8x average over the last three years.

While ILMN stock looks like it can see higher levels, it is helpful to see how Illumina’s Peers fare on metrics that matter. You will find other valuable comparisons for companies across industries at Peer Comparisons.

Returns Jun 2024
MTD [1]
YTD [1]
Total [2]
 ILMN Return 10% -18% -10%
 S&P 500 Return 1% 12% 139%
 Trefis Reinforced Value Portfolio 1% 5% 646%

[1] Returns as of 6/7/2024
[2] Cumulative total returns since the end of 2016

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