Thomas Weisel Cuts Affymetrix to 'Peer Perform'

Analyst Paul Knight cites increasing competition and lower earnings visibility

Thomas Weisel downgraded Affymetrix (AFFX ), a maker of technology for the life sciences industry, to peer perform from underperform.

Analyst Paul Knight says he sees rival Agilent as a more formidable competitor than he once thought. He says Agilent prices its scanners about 15%-25% below those of Affymetrix. He thinks Affymetrix's market share in the array market has declined to 72%, from 80%, last year, while Agilent's has risen to 12%, from 7%.

In addition, Gene Logic, a major customer of Affymetrix, announced lower-than-expected revenue last week. Knight thinks Affymetrix will remain the market leader, but he doesn't think the risk-to-reward profile is compelling. Knight cut the 17 cents 2003 earnings per share estimate to 14 cents; trimmed the 60 2004 estimate to 55 cents; and cut the 85 cents estimate to 75 cents, which are all below consensus estimates.

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