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Meridian Sees 20 to 30 Percent Growth in Fiscal 2012

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Meridian Bioscience today provided guidance for its 2012 fiscal year, projecting net income to improve between 20 and 30 percent above projected fiscal 2011 income on the strength of its illumigene franchise.

For the year ending Sept. 30, 2012, the company expects EPS to fall between $.85 and $.89 on net sales of between $183 million and $192 million. The guidance excludes reorganization costs in 2011.

During its fiscal third-quarter earnings announcement last month, Meridian had lowered its full-year 2011 sales guidance to a range of $160 million to $163 million from an earlier forecast of $165 million to $170 million. Its EPS guidance was taken down to between $.68 and $.71 from an earlier guidance of $.77 to $.82.

At the time, the firm cited weakness in its core Life Science and European Diagnostics units. Today, the company said that 2011 results are anticipated to come in at the lower end of its guidance range as it continues investing in the illumigene isothermal molecular amplification system, as well as other product development activities, and tries to restore growth in Europe while reducing operating costs in its Life Science business.

Commenting on the 2012 guidance, Meridian CEO John Kraeutler attributed the growth over 2011 expectations to its expanding illumigene business. In addition to revenues from its illumigene C. difficile test, projected revenues from the illumigene Group B Strep test are also included in 2012 guidance.

The C. difficile test received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration in July 2010, while the Group B Strep test is being reviewed by FDA. Meridian expects it to launch in the US during the first quarter.

Kraeutler added that the illumigene Mycoplasma pneumoniae test is expected to launch outside of the US in the second quarter, though it is expected to contribute only "nominally" to 2012 revenues.

In addition, the firm's illumigene Group A Strep test is scheduled to start beta trials at the end of the first quarter, while a test for Bordatella pertussis/parapertussis, the cause of whooping cough, is anticipated to be added to the illumigene franchise in the second half of fiscal 2012.

The guidance for 2012 does not include revenues from these two tests.

Organic growth in the Diagnostics business also is expected to come from Meridian's H. pylori tests for diagnosing peptic ulcers and from its foodborne tests for toxigenic E. coli and Campylobacter, Kraeutler said.

In its European Diagnostics unit, the company will be coming out with a new, rapid C. difficile test to complement the illumigene test, as well as a new test for Legionella.

Organic revenue growth for the Life Science business is expected to be in the range of 5 percent and 6 percent for 2012, with the Bioline unit sustaining a double-digit increase. However, the core Life Science business is anticipated to see a "slight decline due to a slowing immunoassay demand profile," Kraeutler said.

"During fiscal 2011 we continued to refine our business model with investments and adjustments designed to reduce downside surprises, expand upon the opportunities coming from new product development led by illumigene and maintain strength coming from our H. pylori, foodborne and Bioline growth drivers," he said in a statement. "We believe that our fiscal 2012 guidance is well-balanced."

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