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Meridian Bioscience's Q1 Revenues Rise 8 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Meridian Bioscience today reported an 8 percent hike in its fiscal first-quarter revenues helped along by its illumigene molecular diagnostic franchise.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2011, sales rose to $40.3 million, compared to $37.3 million in the year-ago period, but fell short of consensus analyst estimates of $43.3 million.

By segment, the bulk of the company's sales came from US Diagnostics, which recorded sales of $25.2 million. European Diagnostics had sales of $5.5 million, and Life Science posted $9.6 million in sales.

The firm's R&D costs in the quarter slid 2 percent to $2.3 million, and SG&A costs increased a fraction of 1 percent to $12.2 million.

Meridian's net earnings increased to $6.6 million, or $.16 per share, up from $6.0 million, or $.15 per share, a year ago. On an adjusted basis, EPS was $.17, missing Wall Street estimates of $.19.

Meridian finished the quarter with $26.2 million in cash and short-term investments.

John Kraeutler, CEO of Meridian, said in a statement that the company's key focus areas, led by its illumigene molecular amplification platform, made the biggest contribution to sales in the quarter. The overall C. difficile business increased 27 percent worldwide, foodborne disease testing rose by 24 percent, H. pylori increase by 2 percent, and Life Science grew 10 percent, led by 13 percent growth in its Bioline unit.

During the last 10 weeks, Meridian's illumigene platform has been placed with about 100 new customers bringing the total number of placements to 750 worldwide, Krauetler said.

In December the company's illumigene Group B Strep test for testing during pregnancy was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, and Kraeutler said today that "early results are very encouraging."

The company's near-term focus will be on "maximizing overall illumigene placements" and adding the Group B Streptococcus assay to existing placements, he said. Meridian's illumigene Mycoplasma pneumonia test is in clinical trials and the illumigene Group A Strep test will follow "in the near future," he added.

Meridian continues to expect to launch three to four new illumigene tests annually for "the foreseeable future," Kraeutler said.

For full-year 2012 the company reaffirmed its guidance for net sales to be in the range of $183 million to $192 million, and EPS to be between $.85 and $.89.

Meridian today also said that its board of directors declared a regular quarterly dividend of $.19 per share for the fiscal first quarter. The dividend is payable on Feb. 17 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 3.

In Wednesday afternoon trading on the Nasdaq shares of Meridian were down 6 percent at $18.61.

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