genoptix-logo.gifGenoptix, a Carlsbad, Calif., provider of diagnostic services to cancer and blood-disease specialists, filed to raise as much as $86.25 million in an intial offering. The company specializes in genetic and other testing of blood and bone-marrow samples in order to diagnose various cancers and to determine appropriate treatments.

Genoptix, it turns out, is another biotech chameleon. Until late 2004, the company was focused on developing laser and optical tools for cellular analysis. Then Genoptix switched gears to diagnostic services, a field in which it finally swung to a profit of $1.3 million on revenue of $10.7 million in the first quarter of 2007. The company still has accumulated losses of $54 million.

The terms of the IPO have yet to be established, of course, so it’s impossible to know whether $86 million is a rich IPO price or not. Service businesses do tend to grow more slowly than successful drug-developing biotechs, although Genoptix ramped up its revenues fairly quickly — the company claims a 48 percent compounded quarterly growth rate over the past nine quarters. Although it’s also possible that Genoptix — and, perhaps Talecris, which I wrote about here — might actually serve as interesting test cases as to whether IPO investors these days are more interested in the traditional biotech model of lottery tickets promising instant wealth, or slow-and-steady cash-generating businesses that just happen to have their roots in biotechnology.

One other interesting note about Genoptix — its CEO, Tina Nova, serves on the Independent Citizens’ Advisory Committee, the powerful oversight board that oversees California’s $3 billion stem-cell program, as well as three ICOC subcommittees. Those memberships aren’t exactly ceremonial, as they each involve regular meetings — generally monthly, and usually lengthy — in various locations across California. Just one other factor would-be IPO investors might want to consider, although it doesn’t seem to have slowed the company down significantly so far.

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