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Celera Q2 Revenues Soar; New Research Agreement Signed

NEW YORK, Jan 25 –- Celera said Thursday its second quarter fiscal 2001revenues surged to $20.3 million from $8.3 million in the year-ago period as the company continued to rack up one new commercial and three new academic subscribers.

The revenue increase " results principally from subscription agreements with commercial and academic customers ," said Dennis Winger, chief financial officer of Applera, Celera's parent company. " It is not unreasonable to believe that Celera's revenues could double for 2001 compared to the previous year."

Celera now has 30 users of the database, including 20 publicly announced subscribers plus two whose names have not been released. Some of Celera's collaborators on sequencing and other projects also have access to the database. 

In the earnings report, Celera also announced that it had reached an agreement to collaborate with the Institut de Recherche Pierre Fabre in France to analyze variations in genes that encode tubulin and how these variations impact breast cancer treatments. Ultimately, the two companies will share in rights to revenues from any therapeutics developed out of this collaboration, Celera said.

This collaboration " builds on [our] unique capabilities in vertical SNP analysis," said Celera president and CSO Craig Venter. " With high-throughput sequencing we can do between one and two hundred thousand SNPs a day. We are trying to make the correlation between SNP variations and outcomes."

Higher expenses caused net losses for the quarter to continue to widen, albeit less than Wall Street had anticipated. Celera reported a 38 percent increase in research and development expenses to $52.7 million, a 52 pecent increase in selling and administrative expenses to $14.4 million, as well as an $11 million charge stemming from the acquisition of Paracel. 

Net losses for the fiscal second quarter totaled $29.7 million, or 49 cents a share, compared with $24.3 million, or 47 cents a share, in the year ago period.

Nevertheless, the quarterly loss per share came in nine cents below forecasted losses of 58 cents a share, according to a survey of 10 brokers conducted by FirstCall/Thomson Financial.   

Since the beginning of the quarter the company has also signed a number of sequencing and technology agreements. Celera agreed to sequence genomes of microorganisms with Diversa, to develop data analysis software for Celera Discovery System with Lion Bioscience, and to develop a life sciences supercomputer with the Sandia National Laboratory and Compaq.

The company is now moving into the drug discovery business.

" As we expand our information platforms and computational biology skills, we are well-positioned to extend our reach into medical discovery," Venter said. " We're putting in place a set of capabilities, internally and with a growing list of collaborators, that we believe will give us the opportunity to understand the logic of biology. We intend to use these capabilities to discover and develop innovative new therapies and molecular diagnostic information."

Celera also said in the report that it has now sequenced over 15.7 billion base pairs of the mouse genome, for 5x coverage, and is assembling the genome. This report follows October’s announcement that Celera had sequenced 9.3 billion base pairs of the mouse genome.

The mouse genome data is available to subscribers of Celera’s database.

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