Foundation Medicine shares soar on first day of public trading

 Michael Pellini, MD, president and CEO of Foundation Medicine. Photo taken from company website.
Michael Pellini, MD, president and CEO of Foundation Medicine. Photo taken from company website.

Shares of Cambridge biotechnology startup Foundation Medicine Inc. were trading up 75 percent at $31.50 on the Nasdaq stock exchange Wednesday morning in its debut as a public company.

Foundation, which has attracted high-profile financial backers such as Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, completed its initial public offering Tuesday night. The company sold more than 5.5 million shares at $18 each, raising about $106 million.

The IPO, along with others priced in recent weeks, is being watched by life sciences insiders as tests of the strength of the IPO market at a time of volatility on the broader financial markets. But even with stock markets falling in recent days, investors snapped up Foundation shares at prices above the $14 to $16 range the company specified two weeks ago.

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Unlike most other recent Boston area biotech IPOs, Foundation is not developing drugs. Instead, it is a diagnostic company, deploying genomics data and DNA sequencing to help doctors pinpoint treatments for cancer patients.

Foundation shares opened Wednesday morning under the Nasdaq ticker symbol of FMI. It began the trading day with a market value of more than $500 million.