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Battered by Weak Pharma Market, Qiagen Slashes Sales Outlook; Shares Plummet

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NEW YORK, July 3 - Qiagen today said a weak second quarter caused it to slash its sales targets for the year by 13 percent to around $300 million, and warned it may record just $350 million in sales next year.

The news triggered a flash-flood sell-off of Qiagen stock on the Nasdaq exchange, where shares fell nearly 38 percent, or $3.80, to $6.22, in mid-morning trade. The lowest the shares have traded over the past year before today's announcement was $10.01.

Qiagen complained in a statement that a marked slowdown in R&D spending by US drug companies battered its instrumentation and synthetic nucleic-acid business, and added that the straights were dire enough to affect sales and earnings for the rest of this year and 2003.

"What happened in the second quarter is that pharmaceutical revenues in the US, instead of growing rapidly, were actually flat or declined," Peer Schatz, Qiagen's chief financial officer, told Dow Jones Newswires. "This has got nothing to do with our products. We think there is a short-term contraction in pharmaceutical budgets."

 

He also told Dow Jones that the second-quarter developments will not alter the company's strategy.

Qiagen said it expects to make $.05 per share in the current second quarter, down from $.09 per share, and expects to make $.05 and $.06 per share for the third and fourth quarters, respectively. Qiagen's original projection was to earn $.11 per share for both periods.

Though next year should see a 48-percent jump in per-share earnings, to $.34, Qiagen said, that would still be significantly lower than the $.45 average forecasted by analysts up until this morning's statement.

Stressing a bright spot, Qiagen said that though instrumentation accounts for just 11 percent of its total worldwide sales, and that some 35 percent of its sales   are from the pharmaceutical industry, fully half of its total revenues come from academia, which remains a strong customer base.

 

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