NEW YORK, Jan. 27-Beckman Coulter today reported a steep falloff in earnings for the fourth quarter of 2002 due to a $39.3 million charge from settling a longstanding patent infringement lawsuit with Streck Laboratories.
The company also said that it will eliminate roughly 300 jobs, about 3 percent of its workforce, as part of a restructuring announced on Jan. 13. Two-thirds of those jobs are in domestic operations, and the remainder are in international operations. Beckman expects to book a $16 million pretax charge for the first quarter of 2003 for severance costs.
For the fourth quarter of 2002, the company reported net earnings of $33.5 million, down from the $48.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Diluted earnings per share were $0.53, as compared to $0.75 in 2001's final quarter.
Beckman Coulter said it plans to recoup its costs for the settlement from an escrow account that was established when Beckman Instruments acquired Coulter in 1997. The account has more than enough cash to cover the settlement, according to Beckman. If the company does recover its costs, it will book them as income.
Sales for the quarter, ended December 31, 2002, were $595.5 million, up significantly from the $578.3 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2001. Sales of its automated genetic analysis systems totaled $53.6 million, down 10.7 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, and total life science research sales decreased nearly 10 percent to $135.3 million.
The company spent $46.4 million on R&D in the quarter, down from the $54.2 million it spent during the equivalent period of 2001.
Beckman Coulter held $91.4 million in cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2002.