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Aurora Enters the Black, Beats Wall St. Q3 Forecast by Three Cents

NEW YORK, Oct 23 - Aurora Biosciences said Monday its third-quarter net income totaled $1.4 million, or six cents a share on a diluted basis, compared with a net loss of $1.7 million, 10 cents a share, in the year ago period.

Earnings beat Wall Street’s expectations by three cents a share, based on a survey of five analysts conducted by First Call/Thomson Financial.

Separately on Monday, Aurora announced that Wendell Wierenga, CEO of Syrrx, has been named to the company's board of directors.

Revenues for the quarter jumped 54 percent to $16.8 million, compared with $10.9 million in third- quarter 1999, due in part to delivery of its Ultra High-Throughput Screening System to Merck, ion channel discovery agreements with Johnson & Johnson and Organon, and continuing collaborations with Pfizer and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The company said the cost of revenue meanwhile increased 34 percent.

Total operating expenses for the quarter increased 32 percent, compared with the third quarter of the previous year.

Research and development expenses increased 36 percent in the third quarter and selling, general, and administrative expenses were up 21 percent.

Net interest and other income were also up, due primarily to interest income resulting from a $71 million private placement of common stock in February 2000, the company said.

" We continue to build discovery collaborations and license agreements with leading pharmaceutical, biotech, and voluntary health organizations,” Stuart Collinson, Aurora’s chairman, CEO, and president, said in a statement.

“We have demonstrated our ability to take our technologies further downstream through our therapeutic agreements in spinal muscular atrophy, cystic fibrosis, and Huntington's Disease. We have also demonstrated our ability to commercialize our technology outside human healthcare as exemplified by our first agreement in agricultural genomics,” he said.

In the first nine months of the year, Aurora of San Diego reported net income of $5.7 million, or 26 cents a share on a diluted basis, compared with a net loss of $6.5 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year ago period.

Revenues for the first three quarters of 2000 were up 55 percent to $47.1 million from $30.4 million for the same period in 1999.

Aurora’s shares jumped 3 25/64, or 6.5 percent, to 55 3/8 in trading on the Nasdaq on Monday. Third-quarter results were announced after the close of trading.