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UPDATE: Alere's Q1 Revenues Decline 2 Percent, Fall Short of Estimates

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Alere reported today that its first quarter revenues declined 2 percent year over year as currency translation hit its top line.

The Waltham, Massachusetts-based diagnostics firm reported revenues of $610.4 million for the quarter ended March 31, compared to $625 million for the first quarter of 2014. On average, Wall Street analysts had estimated revenues of $612.9 million.

The Q1 revenues included a negative foreign currency impact of $28.7 million, Alere said.

Sales for its infectious disease tests increased 7 percent year over year to $178.8 million, while sales for its cardiometabolic tests declined 4 percent to $205.1 million, and toxicology test sales fell 4 percent to $148.8 million. Sales for other professional diagnostics tests were down 16 percent to $51.1 million. Revenues from the firm's consumer diagnostics segment were down 1 percent to $22 million, and license and royalty revenue declined 10 percent to $4.7 million.

The firm's R&D costs for the quarter were $28 million, while its SG&A spending was $201.8 million. It also recorded a $34.8 million charge for impairment and loss on dispositions.

Alere reported a loss from continuing operations of $9.2 million, or $.11 per share. On a non-GAAP basis, it had earnings per share of $.57, beating analysts' consensus estimate of $.49.

The firm saw $4 million in sales from its Alere i molecular platform in the first quarter.

CLIA waiver of that platform and an influenza A/B test came part way through Q1, and the firm has now placed about 1,000 systems primarily in the US, Namal Nawana, Alere's president and CEO, said on a conference call following the release of the results. Placements were evenly divided between hospitals and point-of-care settings.

The platform is essentially "a single analyte product" at the moment, however, and the flu season also wrapped up in the quarter. But the company has now submitted its US Food and Drug Administration-cleared assay for group A Streptococcus for CLIA waiver, and Nawana said he expects that to drive placements in the back half of 2015.

Alere is currently focused on populating the Alere i platform with assays for chlamydia, respiratory syncytial virus, and Clostridium difficile, and there are additional tests in development.

"As we get the CLIA waivers for Strep, [Alere i] will be a much less seasonal product than it is with just flu on it," Nawana said. "Then, as we get further analytes into 2016, I think you're going to see much more stable revenue quarter on quarter," he said.

Nawana further noted that the firm's Alere q platform — which is CE marked with an HIV 1/2 test and has a projected menu including HCV, HPV, and HIV viral load tests — is now beginning to be actively marketed, and the firm expects some revenue from this in 2015.

"There's just such strong interest in terms of the product itself, particularly for Africa at the moment in terms of early infant diagnosis of HIV; [it is] a great product for what it can do for the people there, and a lot of the funders are really excited about that, but it will be a second-half revenue opportunity for us," Nawana said.

The firm also said today that it is restating its 2014 financial statements "because of errors related to the accounting for income taxes in our discontinued operations, including the Alere Health divestiture and another divestiture completed in 2014." It added that it expects adjustments to these dispositions will decrease its GAAP income from discontinued operations, net of tax, in 2014 by between $36 million and $50 million, and increase its GAAP loss from continuing operations in 2014 by between $9 million and $13 million.

In Tuesday afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Alere were up around 1 percent at $49.28.