SoftBank-Backed Guardant Soars in Trading Debut After U.S. IPO

(Bloomberg) -- Guardant Health Inc., a cancer-detection firm backed by SoftBank Group Corp., climbed in its trading debut after raising $237.5 million in its U.S. initial public offering.

The Redwood City, California-based company sold 12.5 million shares on Wednesday for $19 each, after marketing them at a range of $15 to $17, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares opened at $27.75 a piece. They traded at $29.83 at 11:13 a.m. in New York, a 57 percent rise from the IPO price that gives the company a market valuation of about $2.5 billion.

Guardant plans to use proceeds for working capital, sales, marketing, administrative and other corporate purposes, it said in its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It may also use some proceeds to acquire or invest in products and businesses, it said.

The company said its cancer tests provide a less-invasive -- and often less costly -- alternative to tissue biopsies to collect samples. Its blood tests help oncologists determine the molecular profile of the cancer they are dealing with so that they can develop individual treatments.

“We believe our tests can expand the scope of precision oncology to earlier stages of the disease, improve patient outcomes and lower health-care costs,” Guardant said in its filing. “We estimate the market opportunity for our current commercial and pipeline products is over $35 billion in the U.S.”

While the average cost of a lung biopsy is $14,670, the list price for Guardant360 -- its marquee blood test -- is $7,800 for U.S. patients, according to its filing. More than 5,000 oncologists have used Guardant360 since the product launched in 2014.

“We believe it is the world’s market leading comprehensive liquid biopsy test based on the number of tests sold in 2017,” Guardant said in the filing.

It released another testing product last year for biopharmaceutical companies to use in research.

Guardant lost $36 million in the first half of 2018, after losing close to $40 million during the same period last year, according to the filing. Its revenue for the first six months of 2018 was $36 million, an increase of about a 93 percent year-over-year.

The company raised $360 million last year from investors led by Japan’s SoftBank, which is expected to remain its biggest holder with a 33 percent stake after the offering, according to the filing. Sequoia Capital, its second-largest backer, will hold 9 percent after the IPO.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. led the offering. The shares trade on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol GH.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.