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Aclara and Illumina Report Higher Q1 Revenues, Widening Net Losses

NEW YORK, April 26 - Early-stage assay makers Aclara Biosciences and Illumina both reported slightly higher revenues for the first quarter of 2001, coupled with rises in net losses.

Aclara, which manufactures lab-on-a-chip microfluidic assay devices, reported revenues of $934,000 during the first quarter of 2001, up from $840,000 during the comparable quarter a year ago. The increase, the company said, is due to initial sales of its Arteas microfluidic device for performing hundreds of assays simultaneously using nanoliter amounts of sample.

Illumina, a maker of bead-based assays and provider of SNP detection and oligonucleotide synthesis services, earned $564,000 in the most recent quarter, compared to $83,000 during the first quarter of 2000. Initial sales of oligonucleotides built using the company's Oligator synthesis technology contributed to the rise in revenue, along with revenues from collaborations with Chevron and Applied Biosystems.

However, operating expenses for the two companies also rose, contributing to higher net losses. Aclara, of Mountain View, Calif., spent almost twice as much on R&D during the first quarter of 2001--$5.2 million--compared to the same quarter a year ago, and incurred a charge of $4.8 million related to settling a lawsuit with Caliper Technologies over misappropriation of trade secrets. 

Aclara posted a net loss of $9.8 million, or 28 cents per share. These losses widened from the year-ago quarter when the company posted a net loss of $5.9 million, or 94 cents per share, and exceeded Wall Street's expectations of 17 cents per share, based on a survey of two brokers conducted by FirstCall/Thomson Financial.

Illumina's net loss rose more modestly, to 17 cents per share, or $4.9 million for the first quarter of this year, from $4.8 million a year ago, or 23 cents per share. These losses beat Wall Street's expectatisonf of 18 cents per share, based on a survey of four brokers conducted by FirstCall/Thomson Financial.

Illumina spent $4.5 million on R&D during the first quarter of 2001, compared to $3.6 million during the same quarter in 2000.

In the earnings announcement, Illumina said that it would roll out its SNP genotyping technology, developed in collaboration with Applied Biosystems, as part of an early-access program by the third quarter of this year. The product would be ready for commercial shipment in mid-2002.

Illumina had cash and investments worth $115 million as of March 31 of this year, and the company expects to earn revenues of between $6 million and $8 million for 2001.

Aclara also reported progress in expanding its research program in the field of proteomics. The company is developing its E-tag chemistry to detect the presence and quantify the amount of proteins in a liquid sample, thereby avoiding surface effects present in protein microarrays, and "has made key hires in this area," CEO Joseph Limber said in a conference call with investors.

As of March 31,  Aclara had $188 million in cash and investments.  
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