TB Dx maker Oxford Immunotec unleashes IPO, raising $64M

Oxford Immunotec Global's Nasdaq debut is relatively modest, though initial trading appeared to boost the price. The developer of a tuberculosis blood test priced its initial shares below range, a sign that the fall surge of diagnostics and medical device IPOs may have peaked.

The U.K. company, which also has U.S. operations, disclosed that its initial offering involved 5.36 million shares priced at $12 per share, for an initial take of about $64 million. As Renaissance Capital noted, the proposed offering had targeted a price between $13 and $15 per share. Oxford Immunotec projected a $14 offering price in an earlier S-1, which would have generated $75 million.

Oxford Immunotec, which filed initial IPO plans earlier this fall, began trading on the Nasdaq Nov. 22 under the symbol "OXFD." J.P. Morgan Securities and Piper Jaffray served as joint book-running managers for the offering, with Cowen and Co. and Robert W. Baird & Co. serving as co-managers. In a promising sign, the stock price shot up to nearly $15 in early trading.

Oxford Immunotec's decision to move forward with its IPO comes as California diagnostics maker CardioDx pulled back. Earlier in November, the 2012 Fierce 15 company delayed its IPO, citing poor market conditions. CardioDx had proposed offering more than 5 million shares of common stock at between $14 and $16 per share.

Diagnostics company Veracyte ($VCYT), a 2013 Fierce 15 winner, hit the lower end of its IPO range at the end of October, raising $65 million. Other recent jumps into the public market have been more successful. Foundation Medicine ($FMI) recently pulled in more than $111 million from a wildly successful IPO, drawing investors impressed by the company's advances in cancer diagnostics. Biocept Laboratories also appears to be moving ahead with plans to potentially raise more than $25 million in an already-modest IPO.

Executives at Oxford Immunotec plan to use the IPO, in part, to broaden sales, marketing and customer service operations for the company's T-SPOT blood diagnostic test for latent TB infection. T-SPOT has premarketing approval in the U.S., a CE mark in Europe and regulatory signoffs in Japan and China. The test is designed to be much more sensitive and specific than the current, 100-year-old tuberculin skin test. 

Also on tap: more research and development efforts for other immunology-related diagnostics and debt repayment.

Oxford Immunotec's advances are pretty impressive for an emerging diagnostics company, and they could have spurred more investor interest than the end result. The company, which launched in 2002, has reimbursement approval in the U.S. (where it has a special code only for its test), and also in key markets such as Japan, Switzerland and Germany. As well, it has major distribution agreements in place in China and Japan, it said in a regulatory filing.

- read the release
- here's Renaissance Capital's item