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Amersham First-Half Sales Flat; Discovery Systems Restructuring Ahead of Schedule

NEW YORK, July 29 - Amersham PLC, Amersham Biosciences' parent, reported flat sales for the first half of the year, and reduced profits today, while the Biosciences unit reported slightly reduced sales and profits.


Overall, Amersham reported ₤808 million ($1.3 billion) in sales for the first half of 2003, down from ₤812 million in the first half of 2002. Amersham Biosciences reported ₤133 million in sales for the protein separations business for the first half, and ₤192 million in sales for the discovery systems section -- which includes genomics, proteomics, and bioassays -- compared to ₤131 million in sales for protein separations and ₤202 million for discovery systems in the first half of 2002.


The company said the restructuring of the discovery systems unit is "ahead of schedule," and headcount had been reduced 210 so far, with planned headcount reductions being 445 staff. In this restructuring, Amersham said research is "consolidated" in the Piscataway, NJ area, where development is spread between Cardiff, UK, Uppsala, Sweden, and Piscataway; and manufacturing is taking plase in Cardiff and Umea, Sweden.


Net pre-tax profit came to ₤77 million, down from ₤144 million for the first half of 2002. This included restructuring costs of ₤41 million, and goodwill amortization charges of ₤22 million.


The Biosciences unit had a net profit of ₤33 million, compared to ₤36 million in the year-ago period, comprised of a ₤43 million profit from the protein separations business and a ₤10 million loss from the discovery systems unit, compared to ₤48 million in profit from protein separations and ₤12 million loss for the discovery systems unit, including a net expenditure of ₤7 million for the CodeLink microarray system, in the first half of 2002.


Total R&D expenditure was up to ₤91 million for the first half, from ₤90 million in the first half of 2002. These outlays included increased R&D expenses for protein separations, and reduced R&D in discovery systems, due to the restructuring of the discovery systems unit.


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