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Wells Fargo Upgrades Bruker on Further Restructuring, Clinical Market Plans

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Wells Fargo Securities today upgraded shares of Bruker to an Outperform rating and increased the price range on its stock after a Bruker official said the company plans to further restructure its Chemical and Applied Markets division and grow its presence in the clinical market.

Analyst Tim Evans upgraded Bruker from a previous Market Perform rating and raised the price range on Bruker's shares to between $25 and $27 from an earlier range of $21 to $22.

In a research note, Evans said that CAM has weighed down Bruker's profitability since its formation in 2010 after Bruker purchased certain businesses from Varian. Bruker has been too timid in restructuring the division "and we have come to view management's treatment of CAM as a potential proxy for how committed the company will be to enduring the challenges of company-wide restructuring," Evans said.

At Wells Fargo's recent healthcare conference, Bruker CALID President Juergen Srega mapped out some details about its plans for CAM, which includes further narrowing its strategic focus and reducing operating expenses.

The Bruker CALID group comprises CAM, Bruker Daltonics, Bruker Detection, and Bruker Optics.

Srega also said at the Wells Fargo conference that it will close another CAM manufacturing site, in addition to the Netherlands site, and source out high-level assemblies in CAM and the other divisions within CALID. Bruker also plans to exit a manufacturing operation and a machine shop in CALID.

In total, the planned 2014 CALID actions should result in annual savings of between $8 million and $10 million, Evans said.

He also noted that efforts by Bruker directed at the clinical market could be a growth driver. While the market represents only about 5 percent of Bruker's total revenues, it is one of the firm's highest growth spaces, and one in which the company is heavily investing.

On that front, Bruker said that it now has more than 1,200 placements of its MALDI Biotyper clinical microbiology platform. The instrument gained 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in November, and US placements of the system represent about 25 percent of total placements, Evans said. In addition, Bruker has projects in place for Fourier transform infrared and Raman spectroscopy, and Q-TOF and MALDI mass specs for the clinical market.

"We believe these applications will help support better-than-average revenue growth," Evans said.

"While we reiterate our view that [Bruker's] transformation will be volatile, will take [at least five] years, and still may not reach industry average margins (about 19 percent), we have renewed conviction the company will be able to achieve meaningful improvement in cash flow and earnings relative to current levels," he added.

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