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BioMérieux Reports 11 Percent Revenue Growth in Q4

NEW YORK – BioMérieux reported today that its fourth quarter revenues rose 11 percent year over year driven by sales of molecular biology reagents and microbiology instruments, as well as a strong dynamic in Asia Pacific.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, BioMérieux reported revenues of €746.8 million ($810.8 million), up 11 percent on a reported basis, or 8 percent at constant exchange rates and scope of consolidation, from €672.4 million in the prior-year period.

Clinical applications revenues rose 12 percent on a reported basis to €611.8 million from €553.7 million in Q4 2018. Within the clinical applications segment, molecular biology revenues increased 17 percent to €193.9 million from €165.4 million in the prior-year period. The BioFire FilmArray product line grew 20 percent in the quarter. The company said that growth was impacted by a decline in instrument sales in favor of placements, but that it nevertheless installed nearly 600 new instruments, bringing the total FilmArray installed base to approximately 10,400 units globally.

Also within clinical applications, immunoassays contributed €128.5 million in revenues, up 10 percent from €116.7 million in Q4 2018, a result the firm said was boosted by the consolidation of Hybiome sales in China. Microbiology sales increased 9 percent to €286.0 million from €262.6 million in Q4 2018, driven by the Vitek automated identification and antibiotic susceptibility product line, Bact/Alert Virtuo blood culture system, and microbiology lab automation solutions.

Industrial applications revenues in Q4 grew 7 percent to €127.8 million from €118.8 million in Q4 2018, driven by sales of microbiology equipment and services and by demand for the Gene-Up molecular biology product line from customers in the food industry.

In the quarter, the firm submitted its enhanced BioFire Blood Culture Identification 2 (BCID2) Panel to the US Food and Drug Administration for 510(k) clearance. The next generation panel includes 26 bacteria, 7 yeasts, and 10 antimicrobial resistance genes, and comprises emerging pathogens such as Candida auris, as well as new targets to more accurately identify methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other resistant organisms.

The firm also signed a partnership agreement with Mountain View, California-based Specific Diagnostics, a microbiology company with a technology to accelerate antibiotic susceptibility testing by detecting the volatile organic compounds emitted by microorganisms as they grow. BioMérieux participated in Specific Diagnostics' Series A funding round and as a result holds an 8 percent share in the company, it said.

"In 2019, BioMérieux delivered results in line with its initial targets, strengthening its position in the in vitro diagnostics market," Alexandre Mérieux, the firm's chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

For full-year 2019, BioMérieux reported that total revenues rose to €2.68 billion from €2.42 billion in 2018, up 11 percent on a reported basis or 7 percent on an organic basis.

For the year, the firm's FilmArray sales exceeded €600 million in revenues, the firm said, with international roll-out being particularly robust, representing 19 percent of the total.

Revenues from clinical applications, which include microbiology, immunoassay, molecular biology, were €2.21 billion, up 11 percent from €1.99 billion in 2018.

Microbiology revenues rose 6 percent to €1.03 billion from €964.9 million in 2018, while immunoassay revenues increased 7 percent to €474.5 million from €441.8 million in 2018.

Molecular biology revenues jumped 22 percent to €671.5 million from €549.0 million in 2018. Revenues from industrial applications were €466.7 million, up 4 percent from €433.5 million in the prior year.

For full-year 2019 the company reported a 7 percent reported increase in SG&A expenses to €749.8 million from €643.1 million, reflecting a step-up in marketing initiatives for the BioFire FilmArray product line and provisions relating to the management of a network of distributors. The firm's R&D spending also increased 7 percent to €374.3 million from €326.9 million, reflecting a faster pace of development in microbiology and additional R&D efforts made to support the BioFire FilmArray product line.

In 2019, the company acquired Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based molecular food testing developer Invisible Sentinel. It also increased its holding in Suzhou Hybiome Biomedical Engineering from 54 percent to 67 percent.

In the year, testing for the biomarkers of acute kidney injury that are included in its NephroCheck test were added to international guidelines. The firm also received clearance from authorities in China for the Bact/Alert Virtuo system and resin-based blood culture bottles, and a four new Etest antimicrobial susceptibility testing products. 

The firm also announced it will change its organizational structure, effective March 2, 2020. It will be managed by a smaller, more agile executive team, led by the chairman and CEO, with a new structure comprising a division focused on clinical customers and a division focused on industrial customers. Pierre Boulud, formerly executive vice president of the Asia Pacific region, has been appointed chief operating officer in charge of clinical operations and will be responsible for all sales, marketing, customer service, strategy, and business development activities.

For 2019, BioMérieux is targeting organic sales growth between 5 percent and 7 percent at constant exchange rates, in part reflecting a more intense flu season in 2020. The firm noted that this objective also reflects uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, in particular its potential impact on the Chinese economy in the first half. China represents 10 percent of BioMérieux's consolidated sales, the firm said.