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Bio-Rad Reports Q4 Revenues Down 1 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) — Bio-Rad Laboratories reported after the close of the market today an approximately 1 percent decrease in fourth quarter revenues.

The Hercules, Calif.-based company reported $598.2 million in revenues for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2014, down from $602.6 million a year ago, but surpassing the average analysts' estimate of $593.4 million.

On a currency-neutral basis, quarterly sales grew about 5 percent.

"This dramatic difference represents a currency headwind of more that $30 million on the top line," Bio-Rad CFO Christine Tsingos said in a conference call to discuss the earnings.

Life Science net sales increased about 2 percent year over year to $223.7 million from the prior-year period. Sales increased 6 percent on a currency-neutral basis, which the firm attributed to continued strong sales of gene expression and protein quantification products as well as the company's QX200 Digital Droplet PCR system.

The Clinical Diagnostics segment reported a 2 percent decrease in Q4 revenues to $370.3 million in Q4 2013. On a currency-neutral basis, net sales saw an increase of around 4 percent.

Bio-Rad had a profit of $39.0 million, or $1.34 per diluted share in Q4, compared to a profit of $30.1 million, or $1.04 per share, in Q4 2014. Wall Street had a consensus profit estimate of $1.18 per share. The company does not provide adjusted EPS figures.

The decrease in profit included $11.4 million of expense associated with the discontinuation of a small product line and $7.0 million associated with expenses related to prior acquisitions. The fourth quarter benefitted from no accrual of settlement costs connected with a previously disclosed investigation of the company in connection with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Its R&D spending in Q4 increased about 6 percent to $59.3 million from $55.8 million a year ago, while SG&A costs decreased 3 percent to $207.5 million from $214.6 million a year ago.

"The current quarter SG&A includes $7 million of non-cash expense related to the revaluation of contingent considerations for the acquired cell sorting and diagnostics sequencing technologies; offsetting this expense was currency translation, which effectively lowered SG&A on a reported basis by about the same amount," Tsingos said. The amortization of intangibles related to prior acquisitions was $2 million in the fourth quarter, down slightly from the year-ago period.

The increase in R&D spending was due in part to investment in a diagnostic targeted sequencer based on the acquisition of GnuBio, she said.

For full-year 2014 Bio-Rad posted $2.18 billion in revenues, a 2 percent increase from $2.13 billion in 2013 and just above the average analyst estimate of $2.17 billion.

"On a currency neutral basis, sales for the year grew 3.2 percent, and ahead of the guidance we laid out at the beginning of the year," Tsingos said.

Life Science revenues in 2013 totaled $728.3 million, a 3 percent increase on a reported basis and a 4 percent increase on a currency neutral basis, fueled by strong sales of digital PCR instruments and consumables, and good annual growth in the firm's cell biology and processed media products, Tsingos said. 

Clinical Diagnostics sales had $1.43 billion in revenues in 2014, around a 2 percent increase over 2013, or a nearly 3 percent increase on a currency-neutral basis.

The firm's net income in 2014 rose to $88.8 million, or $3.05 per diluted share, from $77.8 million, or $2.69 per share, in 2013.

SG&A expense was 37 percent of sales for the year, higher than estimated at the beginning of 2013, driven primarily by a $19 millionaccrual taken during the year related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices investigation, and increased spending associated with the addition of the GnuBio business, Tsingos said.

R&D expense in 2014 was $220.0 million, or 10 percent of sales, compared to $211.0 million in 2013.

"This increase is a direct impact of the acquisition of GnuBio as well as spending for new instruments for blood typing and diabetes monitoring," Tsingos noted.

Looking ahead to 2015, Tsingos estimated R&D expense will likely stay at the 9 to 10 percent level as the firm moves a number of investments through the R&D pipeline.

Bio-Rad ended 2014 with $413.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $284.4 million in short-term investments.

"Looking to 2015, we see several opportunities for growth on the top line," Tsingos said.

"The momentum we are seeing on many of our Life Science product lines is encouraging for future growth. In addition, funding for research around the world seems to be improving. On the diagnostics side of the business, we also see opportunities for currency-neutral growth in many of our core businesses, including new instruments for the blood typing and diabetes monitoring markets," she said.

Offsetting some of this growth is an anticipated decline in the European diagnostics market, fueled by price pressure and government tenders, as well as lab consolidation in some global markets.

The combined result is an expectation of sales growth in 2015 similar to that seen in 2014, around 3 percent on a currency-neutral basis for the full year, Tsingos said.