By Brady Huggett

Orchid BioSciences Inc. filed a shelf registration statement worth up to $75 million, giving it options for the capital markets.

Orchid will use the funds for general corporate purposes. In its prospectus, the company estimated the selling price of shares to be $4.05, in order to establish its registration fee.

Orchid¿s stock (NASDAQ:ORCH) moved up 3 cents Thursday to close at $4.08. It has about 33.5 million shares outstanding. The stock has traded between $3.10 and $61 in the past 52 weeks.

Donald Marvin, chief financial officer at Orchid, said the shelf registration was designed to give ¿absolute maximum flexibility,¿ and told BioWorld Today it would provide ¿maximum acceleration into the capital markets while minimizing dilution to stockholders.¿

The shelf registration, said Orchid¿s CEO Dale Pfost, also let the Street know Orchid has implemented a financial plan.

¿With our stock being where it is, it¿s important to let people know we have a financing strategy in place,¿ he said.

Orchid¿s revenues in the first quarter were $5.6 million, an increase of 60 percent from the $3.5 million it pulled in over the same period in 2000. It posted a net loss of about $11.5 million for the quarter, compared to a net loss of approximately $7.6 million for 2000¿s first quarter. As of March 31, Orchid had about $50.8 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments.

The Princeton, N.J.-based company attributed the increase in revenue to the placement of SNPstream 25K platforms, sales of SNPware consumable kits, sales of single nucleotide polymorphism scoring, and DNA and other genetic diversity testing services, collaboration and license fees.

Separately, the company said it performed ultra-high-throughput genotyping using its proprietary SNP-IT SNP scoring technology on two different instrument platforms. The company said more than 100,000 genotypes were analyzed on one SNPstream 100K robotic system in one day¿s shift. Also, it demonstrated the ability to analyze more than 100,000 SNP assays per day using Orchid¿s SNPcode kits designed for use with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Affymetrix Inc.¿s GeneChip Array readers. Having dual platform capabilities keeps the company from becoming stagnant and gives options for further growth, Pfost said.

¿Without this ability, we¿d be stuck in a cul-de-sac technologically,¿ he told BioWorld Today. ¿This was really quite a leadership mark to be able to do this.¿

Also, Orchid attributed its increase in revenue for the quarter to its acquisition of London based-AstraZeneca plc¿s subsidiary, Cellmark Diagnostics, in February. Cellmark provides genetic diversity testing services and its acquisition allowed Orchid to expand its presence in Europe. With the acquisition, Orchid entered a multiyear genotyping agreement with AstraZeneca to conduct studies using single nucleotide polymorphisms and gives AstraZeneca access to Orchid¿s SNP databases and the use and development of Orchid¿s SNP panels. (See BioWorld Today, Feb. 14, 2001.)

¿The acquisition gives us a beachhead in the UK to address the European market for major pharmaceutical companies,¿ Pfost said. ¿They had a nice top line when we acquired them and we expect them to be cash positive and earnings accretive by the end of the year.¿

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