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US Diagnostics Business Drives up Meridian Bioscience Q1 Revenues 13 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Meridian Bioscience today said that revenues in its fiscal first quarter rose 13 percent year over year, led by its US Diagnostics unit.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2012, revenues climbed to $45.4 million from $40.1 million a year ago, outpacing the consensus analyst estimate of $44.3 million. US Diagnostics revenues grew to $30.4 million, up 22 percent from $25.0 million a year ago, and more than offsetting a 4 percent decline in the European Diagnostics unit, which saw revenues fall to $5.3 million from $5.5 million due to a difficult macroenvironment there, Meridian Bioscience CEO John Kraeutler said in a statement.

He noted that the company's illumigene molecular diagnostics platform now accounts for 16 percent of total revenues, and the firm's overall C.difficile category grew 13 percent year over year. The illumigene Group B strep assay posted $700,000 in sales during the quarter, he added.

"This product is becoming more widely adopted as laboratories and clinicians recognize that birth complication can be reduced due to its very high accuracy," he said.

Meridian Bio has almost 975 illumigene customers with the number of those using two or three illumigene tests growing, and the firm has closed several agreements with large hospitals groups that are expected to grow illumigene revenues in 2013, Kraeutler added.

In a research note, however, Piper Jaffray analyst William Quirk estimated that Meridian Bio added approximately 25 new illumigene accounts in the quarter, which would be the slowest quarter-over-quarter growth since the company launched the platform. Competitors with broader hospital-acquired infection tests, such as Cepheid, Becton Dickinson, and Quest Diagnostics, as well as new entrants to the HAI space, including Quidel, may be negatively affecting Meridian Bio's illumigene and C. difficile businesses, he said.

Meridian Bio said that revenues for the firm's third unit, Life Science, inched up to $9.7 million from $9.6 million as Bioline revenues grew 9 percent year over year. The core business slipped by 4 percent due to cyclical purchasing patterns of the firm's largest customers, Kraeutler said, adding that Life Science is anticipated to be strong in the fiscal second quarter.

Meridian's R&D expenses during its first quarter increased to $2.5 million, up 9 percent from $2.3 million a year ago, while its SG&A expenses were up 10 percent to $13.2 million from $12.0 million.

Meridian's profit improved to $8.5 million, or $.20 per share, compared to $6.6 million, or $.16 per share, a year ago, and beat analyst estimates of $.19 per share.

The Cincinnati-based company finished the quarter with $33.1 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Meridian Bio reaffirmed prior guidance provided in August estimating revenues for Fiscal Year 2013 of between $190 million and $195 million and EPS in the range of $.86 to $.91.

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