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Meridian Bioscience Q1 Revs Drop 12 Percent

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Meridian Bioscience today reported net sales declined 12 percent year-over-year in its fiscal first quarter, while profits fell 32 percent.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010 the Cincinnati-based diagnostics company posted $37.3 million in revenues, compared to $42.5 million a year ago. Results for the quarter were "heavily impacted" by shrinking demand for swine flu tests, which were "high" a year ago but "very limited" in the first quarter of 2011, Meridian CEO John Kraeutler said in a statement.

Meridian's US diagnostics sales plummeted 26 percent to $22.7 million from $30.7 million a year ago, while European diagnostics sales fell about 6 percent to $5.9 million, compared to $6.3 million a year ago.

The company's life science sales rose 59 percent to $8.7 million from $5.5 million.

According to Kraeutler, revenues generated by Meridian's illumigene C. difficile test, which received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration during the summer, almost entirely offset declines from the company's traditional immunoassay tests for the disease.

"Illumigene is still in the early phases of launch; however, I am pleased to say that we have approximately 200 customers thus far, an increase from 125 in early November," Kraeutler said. "Recently, we initiated a series of workshops in the US and expanded our distribution capabilities for this new technology. Importantly, gross profit margins in Cincinnati, our diagnostic test manufacturing facility, reached nearly 70 percent for the period signaling continued efficiencies favorably impacting results."

The company bought reagents firm Bioline for $23.3 million over the summer also, and today Meridian said that the business contributed $3.4 million in sales during the quarter. "New product sales from the MyTaq and SensiFast reagents look very promising and are expected to lead Bioline to outperform expectations," Kraeutler said.

For the quarter, Meridian's net earnings took a 32 percent hit as it decreased to $6 million, or $0.15 per share, from $8.9 million, or $0.22 per share, a year ago.

R&D spending inched up 1 percent to $2.3 million in the quarter, while SG&A costs increase 26 percent to $12.2 million from $9.7 million.

The company said it had $41.5 million in cash and short-term investments as of Dec. 31.
For full-year 2011, the company gave a guidance of $165 million to $170 million in net sales and an EPS of between $0.77 and $0.82.

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