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News Scan: Feb 13, 2009

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Trevena and Ligand Ink Deal to Screen Ligand's Targets on Trevena's Platform

Ligand Pharmaceuticals and Trevena this week announced the initiation of a joint research and license alliance to screen targets using Trevena's GPCR chemistry platform against Ligand's combinatorial library of compounds, to identify active compounds with potential for development as G protein-coupled receptor therapeutics.

Under the terms of the agreement, Trevena has been granted exclusive worldwide rights to sublicense active compounds resulting from the collaboration.

Ligand expects to screen 24 targets over two years and receive payments triggered by a tiered screening paradigm for each target.


Ibidi to Distribute Seahorse Bioscience Products in Germany, Austria

Ibidi this week announced that it has signed an agreement to be the exclusive distributor of Seahorse Bioscience products in Germany and Austria.

Ibidi said that it entered into this agreement to further strengthen its position as a service provider for cell-based assays.

Seahorse Bioscience’s platform measures cellular bioenergetics. The Extracellular Flux assay non-invasively profiles the metabolic activity of mammalian cells. This cell-based assay can determine in vitro oxygen consumption, mitochondrial dysfunction, fatty acid oxidation, toxicity, and ATP turnover.

The analyzed cells are not influenced by the measurement, and can be reused for further experiments.


Beckman Coulter's Q4 Revenues Increase 3 Percent

Beckman Coulter reported this week that its fourth-quarter revenues increased around 3 percent, as gains in its clinical diagnostics segment were offset by a decline in life sciences products sales.

The Orange County, Calif.-based firm reported revenues of $811.3 million for the three-month period ended Dec. 31, compared to $789 million for the fourth quarter of 2007. Sales for its clinical diagnostics products rose around 5 percent, while sales for its life sciences products declined roughly 8 percent year over year.

Within its clinical diagnostics segment, the firm's chemistry and clinical automation sales were flat, while cellular analysis revenues were up 4 percent, and immunoassay and molecular diagnostics sales increased 15 percent.

The firm also noted that recurring revenues, which includes supplies, test kits, services, and operating-type lease payments were $610 million, or roughly 75 percent of its total revenues for the quarter.

Beckman Coulter's profit for the quarter was $77.2 million, or $1.21 per share, compared to $44.8 million, or $.69 per share.

The company's R&D costs dropped 33 percent to $64.9 million from $97.5 million year over year, while its SG&A spending inched up 2 percent to $197.5 million from $193.2 million.

For full-year 2008, Beckman Coulter reported revenues of $3.1 billion versus $2.76 billion for FY 2007. It clinical diagnostics sales for the year were $2.59 billion, up 14 percent from $2.28 billion in 2007, and its life sciences sales rose 6 percent to $507 million from $477.9 million.

"Strong total and recurring revenue growth allowed us to make significant investments in our DxN molecular diagnostics product development, intellectual property for new tests, and developing markets sales and service infrastructure," Beckman Coulter Chairman, President, and CEO Scott Garrett said in a statement. "Despite challenges from increased commodity prices, unprecedented capital markets turmoil and significant shifts in currency exchange rates, we delivered on our earnings commitments."

Beckman Coulter's profit for the year was $194 million, or $3.01 per share, compared to a profit of $211.3 million, or $3.30 per share, for 2007. The 2008 results include charges of $19 million for environmental remediation related to consolidating its operations in Orange County and restructuring charges of $21.4 million. This compares to no environmental remediation charge and restructuring charges of $17.7 million in 2007.

The firm's R&D spending for the year was up 2 percent at $280.1 million from $274 million in 2007, while its SG&A spending rose 13 percent to $823 million from $731.1 million.

Beckman Coulter finished the year with $120 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The firm expects its 2009 revenue to be flat at current exchange rates, with EPS of between $3.85 and $4.05.

Beckman Coulter CFO Charles Slacik said during a conference call this week that the firm is "committed to zero overhead growth in 2009. We've prioritized investments, eliminated pay increases across the company, and we are managing head count, all directed to limit growth and operating expenses," he said. "Because we are planning for slowed revenue growth in 2009, especially for cash instruments sales, strict expense management will be essential to deliver on our earnings outlook."

Beckman Coulter also announced this week that its board of directors had declared a quarterly dividend of $.17 per share. It is payable on March 6 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 20.

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