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Waters Bullish on Proteomics, Predicts Big Pharma Will Soon Come Around

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 8 - Waters has its eye on proteomics and is prepared to move forward with investments and acquisitions in the field, CEO Douglas Berthiaume said on Tuesday.


"Clearly the fastest growing area of our business is this area called proteomics," Berthiaume told investors at the 20th annual JPMorgan H&Q Healthcare Conference, held here through Thursday.


"Most proteomics projects are government-sponsored or biotech start-ups like Gene Prot or Caprion," he said. "It's not for the most part going on at a Merck or Lilly, or even the larger biotechs. In those start-up areas, we have made a conscious decision to use our cash flow in the market place."


Berthiaume said Waters would use that cash flow, which he pegged at $150 million in 2001 and predicts will be at least that much for 2002, to make investments much like its deal last December with Gene Prot.


"It's a relative high risk that we'll take a write off on these start ups, but it's worth the risk," said Berthiaume, who added that the company was also looking at targets for acquisition. He would not divulge names of potential targets.


Berthiaume also stresses that Big Pharma was slightly behind in its investment in proteomics but would soon be making greater strides.


"Pharma is in the studying phase" of proteomics," he said, adding that there is a "relative weak large-pharma investment. [But it is] only a matter of time before they make up for weak 2001 investment. They need to get new products to market," Berthiaume said. "Everybody I've talked to has active investigations underway" into proteomics-oriented purchases.


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