NanoString Technologies, Inc. :NSTG-US: Earnings Analysis: Q2, 2017 By the Numbers : October 6, 2017

NanoString Technologies, Inc. reports financial results for the quarter ended June 30, 2017.

We analyze the earnings along side the following peers of NanoString Technologies, Inc. – Agilent Technologies, Inc. (A-US) that have also reported for this period.


  • Summary numbers: Revenues of USD 34.59 million, Net Earnings of USD -4.56 million.
  • Gross margins widened from 65.21% to 76.23% compared to the same period last year, operating (EBITDA) margins now -7.13% from -38.85%.
  • Year-on-year change in operating cash flow of -320.12% is about the same as the change in earnings, likely no significant movement in accruals or reserves.
  • Earnings growth from operating margin improvements as well as one-time items.

The table below shows the preliminary results and recent trends for key metrics such as revenues and net income growth:

2017-06-30 2017-03-31 2016-12-31 2016-09-30 2016-06-30
Relevant Numbers (Quarterly)
Revenues (mil) 34.59 18.06 25.23 23.93 22.63
Revenue Growth (%YOY) 52.88 22.9 13.07 52.51 73.17
Earnings (mil) -4.56 -18.85 -11.59 -10.09 -10.81
Earnings Growth (%YOY) 57.84 -29.1 -31.5 -6.56 12.89
Net Margin (%) -13.17 -104.37 -45.95 -42.15 -47.75
EPS -0.2 -0.87 -0.55 -0.51 -0.55
Return on Equity (%) -18.6 -407.7 -403.3 N/A -241.72
Return on Assets (%) -14.04 -64.75 -40.57 -38.04 -41.44

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Market Share Versus Profits

Revenues History
Earnings History

NSTG-US’s change in revenue this period compared to the same period last year of 52.88% is almost the same as its change in earnings, and is about average among the announced results thus far in its peer group, suggesting that NSTG-US is holding onto its market share. Also, for comparison purposes, revenues changed by 91.51% and earnings by 75.84% compared to the immediate last period.

Revenues Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Leader, Earnings Focus, Laggard, Revenues Focus

Earnings Growth Analysis

The company’s earnings growth was influenced by year-on-year improvement in gross margins from 65.21% to 76.23% as well as better cost controls. As a result, operating margins (EBITDA margins) rose from -38.85% to -7.13% compared to the same period last year. For comparison, gross margins were 60.34% and EBITDA margins were -92.19% in the last reporting period.

Gross Margin Versus EBITDA Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Differentiated; Low Cost, Commodity; Low Cost, Commodity; High Cost, Differentiated; High Cost

Gross Margin Trend

Companies sometimes sacrifice improvements in revenues and margins in order to extend friendlier terms to customers and vendors. Capital Cube probes for such activity by comparing the changes in gross margins with any changes in working capital. If the gross margins improved without a worsening of working capital, it is possible that the company’s performance is a result of truly delivering in the marketplace and not simply an accounting prop-up using the balance sheet.

Gross Margin History
Working Capital Days History

NSTG-US’s improvement in gross margin has been accompanied by an improvement in its balance sheet as well. This suggests that gross margin improvements are likely from operating decisions and not accounting gimmicks. Its working capital days are now 218.26 days compared to 266.84 days for the same period last year.

Gross Margin Versus Working Capital Days

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Customer Financed, Cash Starved, Supplier Financed, Cash Rich

Cash Versus Earnings – Sustainable Performance?

It is important to examine a company�s cash versus earnings numbers to gauge whether its performance is sustainable.

NSTG-US’s change in operating cash flow of -320.12% compared to the same period last year is about the same as its change in earnings this period. Additionally, this change in operating cash flow is about average among its peer group. This suggests that the company did not use accruals or reserves to manage earnings this period, and that, all else being equal, the earnings number is sustainable.

Operating Cash Flow Growth Versus Earnings Growth

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Cash Flow based Earnings, Likely Non-cash Earnings, Low Cash Flow Base, Likely Undeclared Earnings


The company’s earnings growth has also been influenced by the following factors: (1) Improvements in operating (EBIT) margins from -42.21% to -9.58% and (2) one-time items. The company’s pretax margins are now -13.03% compared to -47.60% for the same period last year.

EBIT Margin Versus PreTax Margin

Quadrant label definitions. Hover to know more

Operation driven Earnings, One-time Favorables, Low Earnings Base, One-time Unfavorables
EBIT Margin History
PreTax Margin History

Access our Ratings and Scores for NanoString Technologies, Inc.

Company Profile

NanoString Technologies, Inc. provides life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products. It specializes in the development, manufacture, and sale of biologic information from minute amounts of tissue. It offers nCounter Analysis System which directly profiles hundreds of molecules simultaneously using a novel barcoding technology to researchers in academic, government, and biopharmaceutical laboratories for use in understanding fundamental biology and the molecular basis of disease and to clinical laboratories and medical centers for diagnostic use. It also provides Prosigna Breast Cancer Assay which is a molecular diagnostic product that provides an assessment of a patient’s risk of recurrence for breast cancer. The company was founded by Amber Ratcliffe, Krassen Dimitrov, and Dwayne Dunaway on June 20, 2003 and is headquartered in Seattle, WA.

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