Disappointing Rockley Photonics Earnings Linked to Production of Wearables

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Disappointing Rockley Photonics Earnings Linked to Production of Wearables

Pasadena-based Rockley Photonics is ramping up production of its wearable biosensors, but quarterly earnings underwhelmed due to increased expenditures, according to the company.

On Thursday, the eight-year-old company reported first quarter revenues of $1 million and a net loss of $36.2 million. By comparison, fourth quarter earnings in 2021 showed a revenue of $2.4 million and net loss of $7.1 million.


Rockley Photonics, a biomarker sensor company based in Pasadena and Oxford, England, is quietly making big leaps in the biometric sensor and wearables industry dominated by the Apple Watch and Fitbit. Apple is Rockley’s largest customer according to SEC forms, and—along with a joint venture with a China-based cable optics company, Hengtong Rockley Technology—accounted for 100% of the company’s business in 2020 and 82% in 2021.

“Over the last two years there has been an increased focus on healthcare from individuals who demand a deeper understanding of their health and from healthcare professionals who want a better and more accurate method of monitoring their patients,” said Andrew Rickman, founder and CEO of Rockley Photonics, during the earnings call. “This focus was about more than finding ways to cut health care costs, but to create a shift from the traditional sick care system to a more personal and proactive health care system.”

The company is essentially creating a suite of biometric sensors that can be tapped into on the wrist instead of at the doctor’s office. One sensor tracking body temperature, hydration and blood pressure that will likely show up in the later half of 2022. But Rockley’s leaps in wearables may best be seen in future manifestations of the Apple Watch.

Last year, the Telegraph reported what the company confirmed last week: that it is working on a sensor that could noninvasively monitor glucose, alcohol and lactate it shipped “to an early-access, tier-1 consumer wearables customer”.

Rockley’s onramp of new products is the primary source of the company’s bleak earnings. It spent $21.2 million on research and development, more than double of last year’s R&D. But Apple has said it is experiencing accuracy problems with several of its sensors and announced new features would be pushed back, which may have contributed to Rockley’s increased R&D spending.

The company went public via SPAC merger last year in a $1.2 billion deal. Stock is down 16.7% following its earnings announcement.

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