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ISI Group Downgrades Hologic, Saying Turnaround Effort Will Take Time

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Investment firm ISI Group on Wednesday downgraded shares of Hologic, saying the company's new management will need time to turn the business around.

ISI downgraded Hologic's shares to Buy from a previous Strong Buy rating, but maintained earlier EPS estimates of $1.35 for Fiscal Year 2014; $1.55 for FY 2015; and $1.75 for FY 2016.

In a research note analyst Vijay Kumar said he remains confident in the ability of Stephen MacMillan, who was appointed Hologic's president and CEO last month, to unlock value at the firm, but "the restructuring process under new leadership is certain to take time and, in turn, returns will happen over an elongated period."

Kumar added that he believes MacMillan will need at least six months to understand Hologic's business, identify potential businesses to sell, and devise a plan around the remaining businesses, as well as attract new management talent, and pay down its debt. As a result, "we do not see significant improvements to the [bottom line] until 2015 at the earliest."

Headwinds that Kumar identified include near-term pressure on Hologic's diagnostic business, especially in its pap testing business, "and a temporal dislocation in blood screening." Competition in chlamydia and gonorrhea testing could increase, while hospital capital expenses are still constrained "with the future trajectory somewhat uncertain."

"However, we do expect these headwinds to abate over time and for the overall business platform to return to mid-single digit [revenue] growth," Kumar said.

In afternoon trading on the Nasdaq on Thursday, shares of Hologic were down a fraction of 1 percent at $21.74.