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Bio-Rad Q4 Sales Inch up 3 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Bio-Rad Laboratories reported after the close of the market on Thursday that sales in the fourth quarter ticked up 3 percent year over year, but fell short of Wall Street estimates.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2011, the company brought in a total of $550.2 million, up from $533.7 million a year ago. Consensus analyst expectations were for $562.1 million.

Sales grew 2.4 percent on a currency-neutral basis, Bio-Rad said.

Life Science segment sales rose 3 percent year over year to $198.9 million, or 2.3 percent on a currency-neutral basis. During the quarter the segment saw good momentum across all product lines, Bio-Rad said, an on a conference call following the earnings release, Christine Tsingos, CFO of Bio-Rad, added that sales were particularly strong in real-time PCR and imaging.

The company's purchase of digital PCR firm QuantaLife in October contributed about $400,000 to $500,000 in sales, she said.

Clinical Diagnostics segment sales increased 3 percent year over year during the quarter to $347.3 million, or 2.5 percent on a currency-neutral basis.

The company increased R&D spending to $50.1 million, up 11 percent from $45.3 million. SG&A costs receded 1 percent to $174.9 million from $176.7 million.

The company posted a profit of $59.2 million, or $2.08 per share, compared to $67.9 million, or $2.41 per share, a year ago, and beat Wall Street EPS estimates of $1.67.

2011 results include a net $7 million in operating costs including about $2.5 million of amortization expenses resulting from Bio-Rad's purchase of QuantaLife in October. 2010 results include a tax provision benefit of $10.7 million.

Sales for full year 2011 rose 7 percent to $2.07 billion from $1.93 billion in 2010, short of analyst expectations of $2.09 billion. By segment, Life Science sales ramped up 7 percent year over year to $694.7 million. On a currency-neutral basis sales increased 3.4 percent.

Growth in the segment was driven by core markets of electrophoresis, gene expression, and imaging, Tsingos said.

Clinical Diagnostic sales increased 8 percent to $1.36 billion. The increase was 2.9 percent on a currency-neutral basis, Bio-Rad said.

R&D spending for the year increased 8 percent to $186.4 million from $172.3 million in 2010, while SG&A costs rose 10 percent to $696.3 million from $635.2 million.

Net income for 2011 was $178.2 million, or $6.26 per share, compared to $185.5 million, or $6.59 per share, a year ago. Wall Street had EPS estimates of $5.85.

Bio-Rad ended 2011 with $574.2 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $238.9 million in restricted cash.

For 2012, Tsingos said that the company expects sales growth of between 3.5 percent and 4.5 percent on a currency neutral basis, including $20 million in digital PCR sales, which "will be likely back-end loaded in the year."

She added that 2012 will be a year of investments with expectations of a "significant" increase in cash burn during the year. About $15 million will be targeted toward Bio-Rad's electronic resource planning project — the company spent $13 million on it in 2011 — and an anticipated $25 million operating loss related to QuantaLife, including amortization expense.

In early morning trading today, shares of Bio-Rad on the New York Stock Exchange were down 4 percent at $100.49.

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