Voor wie niet (zo vaak) op het Beursig forum kijkt, een gedeelte uit het interview met Renate Degrave (met dank aan Layzie19):
What has been the biggest challenge you faced over the last 12 months?
I think it is something that happened very recently. On September 5, we announced our half-year results, after which we had a drop in our share of about 40 percent. For the first time, we brought some more negative news to the market, about a slowdown in our growth of commercial cartridge volume. Our value is in the recurring sales of our molecular diagnostic tests: the Idylla cartridges. So just like the cups in an espresso business model, these cartridges are our recurring revenues.
We entered the US market – the biggest molecular diagnostics market – about two years ago. Coming to that market is quite challenging. We are working toward US Food and Drug Administration-approved tests, but this is a long process for every player in this industry.
In the US, we had a delay in the commercial pick-up of our cartridge volume related to the fact that our Tier 1 clients in the US – very large labs – had to adopt several procedures before they could run Idylla tests. As a result, we had to adapt our guidance and targets for the year, which gave us a considerable downward pressure on our share.
Rightfully, a lot of investors just had questions. We had prepared an intense roadshow after our H1 announcement to go and see as many investors as possible. At one conference in Paris, we spoke to more than 45 investors spread over two days. We invested a lot of time in speaking and explaining to our investor community, because it’s an important moment where you really need to manage your messaging in a transparent way.
The share price impact doesn’t show in just one day: it often continues for weeks afterwards, and this is what happened here. So we were being very flexible every day, answering investor questions that had come in with calls and meetings, and then anticipating the questions that might come later. We worked very closely with the senior management team on how to approach that, making sure that, for example, the CEO’s and CFO’s agenda was flexible enough to allow them to speak with investors.
When there is a big sell-off of shares, there are also questions from your analysts, the press and internally. For example, we had to stay in contact with our US teams to make sure they didn’t feel overwhelmed by the wave of negative messaging about their region.
What IR lessons have you taken from the experience?
I think the biggest lesson in being transparent is that you need to explain in the clearest way possible. This implies adapting your message to the person or group you’re addressing. Some of our investors have a lot of scientific knowledge or invest in other oncology companies, but some don’t. Depending on who you speak to, therefore, you need to give more or less explanation about certain aspects.
Moreover, as a listed medtech company developing clinical products for patients, we need to take into account the heavy product and financial regulations. This can be extra-challenging at times.
And what has been the biggest highlight?
For me, the biggest highlight in challenging times is the teamwork. Being able to count on each other is so important. If I have a large fund on the phone that wants to speak to our CEO, I really want to have a direct line to his assistant or, if she’s not available, to the CEO himself. I think the biggest highlight for me was seeing that the team really works: we all pitch in when the moment comes.
In terms of biggest business highlights, we can be pretty proud that today we have, despite all the events, a very solid cash position because we managed to do an equity raise in January of €55.5 mn ($61 mn), followed by a convertible bond issuance of €150 mn in May. Together they provided us with what we call a record financial position that can take us forward a few years.
What are some of the top issues investors and analysts are asking at the moment?
They revolve around the short term: how are we going to fix the situation in the US? Then we also have long-term questions: how will we keep our leader position and how will we face future competition in our area? Within oncology and diagnostics, there are more and more technologies entering the market: how will we keep our position there? Developing a continuously growing menu of tests – together with partners – is key.