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Meridian Bio FY Q3 Sales Inch Up

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Meridian Bioscience today reported a slight improvement in its fiscal third quarter sales as it missed consensus Wall Street expectations on the top and bottom lines.

The Cincinnati-based firm said that for the three months ended June 30, sales inched up to $47.2 million, an increase of a fraction of 1 percent from $47.1 million during its fiscal year 2013 third quarter and below the average analyst estimate of $48 million.

Meridian Bio posted $35.2 million in sales in its Diagnostics segment, down slightly from $35.3 million in the year-ago quarter, and $12 million in its Life Science segment, up 2 percent from $11.8 million a year ago.

In a statement, Meridian Bio CEO Jack Kraeutler said that growth came from the company's line of illumigene molecular products, which increased 9 percent year over year, the Bioline molecular components business, up 6 percent, and the H. pylori category, up 9 percent.

He particularly noted that the new illumigene Pertussis test contributed $227,000 in revenue during FY 2014 Q3 and is now used by about 80 customers. The test was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in March and Health Canada in May.

Kraeutler also said that Meridian Bio added 30 new illumigene customers during the quarter and a total of 94 new assays were installed on new and existing platforms.

C. difficile products continued to decline, however, during FY 2014 Q3, while the company's foodborne category was down 5 percent sequentially from the second quarter, he said. The core Life Science business also faced a tough year-ago comparison.

Moving forward, R&D efforts will concentrate on the illumigene platform and expanding its menu to include assays for herpes simplex virus I and II and gonorrhea/chlamydia. Both assays are anticipated to launch during the first half of FY 2015, Kraeutler said.

"In addition, we are evaluating multiple new technologies, both molecular and non-molecular, that can expand our menu of infectious disease tests, while adding greater workflow simplicity," he said. "Going forward, we will continue investing in the global expansion of our Life Science business, which has already yielded material opportunities in China and surrounding markets."

Meridian Bio posted a profit of $8.8 million, or $.21 per share, in the quarter, compared to a profit of $10.2 million, or $.24 per share, a year ago. It missed the consensus analyst estimate of $.23.

Its R&D expenses rose 15 percent year over year to $3.1 million from $2.7 million, while its SG&A costs increased 7 percent to $13 million from $12.2 million.

Meridian Bio finished the quarter with $39.3 million in cash and cash equivalents.

For full-year FY 2014 ending Sept. 30, it reaffirmed prior guidance of sales of between $190 million and $195 million, and EPS of between $.85 and $.90.

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