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Meridian Bioscience Q4 Revenues Rise 6 Percent; MDx Business Continues to Grow

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Meridian Bioscience today said that its fiscal fourth-quarter sales rose 6 percent year over year with its molecular diagnostic business contributing to the growth.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, the company posted $43.7 million in revenues, compared to $41.3 million a year ago, beating the consensus analyst estimate of $43.0 million.

US Diagnostics, which includes Meridian's illumigene molecular diagnostic products, increased revenues to $27.9 million, up 11 percent from $25.1 million, while European Diagnostics slid 11 percent to $4.7 million from $5.3 million due to the effects of currency exchange. Life Science revenues, including the Bioline molecular reagents products, inched up to $11.1 million from $11.0 million as cyclical purchasing and weakness from industrial customers tamped down sales.

Meridian's R&D spending rose to $2.8 million from $2.5 million a year ago, a 12 percent increase, while SG&A spending of $12.9 in the quarter was an 11 percent increase over $11.6 million a year ago.

Meridian saw profits rise to $8.6 million, or $.21 per share, in the fourth quarter, compared to a profit of $6.7 million, or $.16 per share, a year ago. The average Wall Street estimate was for EPS of $.19.

For Fiscal Year 2012, revenues spiked to $173.5 million, a 9 percent increase from $159.7 million in Fiscal Year 2011, edging out the average Wall Street projection of $172.9 million.

Revenues fell within the lowered guidance range that Meridian provided during its fiscal third-quarter earnings release.

US Diagnostics revenues increased 11 percent to $108.0 million from $97.1 million in 2011. European Diagnostics sales were down 5 percent to $23.0 million from $24.2 million, and Life Science revenues climbed 11 percent to $42.5 million from $38.4 million.

Within diagnostics sales during fiscal 2012, 62 percent of total revenues were driven by Meridian's "focus categories" of C. difficiletesting, which was up 21 percent year over year; food-borne disease assays, up 13 percent; and H. pylori tests, up 7 percent, Meridian's CEO John Kraeutler said in a statement.

The illumigene platform contributed more than $23 million in revenues during Fiscal Year 2012, and Meridian anticipates "significant growth" in Fiscal Year 2013 based upon its current menu as well as additional tests expected to be launched during the year, he said.

"Our illumigene Mycoplasma pneumoniae test was submitted for FDA clearance this week, and we expect that our test for Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough) will be submitted mid-year," Kraeutler said. "Our R&D pipeline is excellent and, in addition to the tests above, includes several new rapid immunoassays, as well as two new illumigene tests for common sexually transmitted diseases."

Within Life Science, the Bioline business grew 15 percent year over year in Fiscal 2012, led by the SensiFast and MyTaq product lines. Core Life Science revenues were up 8 percent, Kraeutler said.

The firm's R&D costs increased 5 percent to $10.3 million from $9.8 million, and SG&A costs grew 3 percent to $49.3 million from $47.7 million.

Meridian's profit increased to $33.4 million, or $.80 per share, from $26.8 million, or $.65 per share, a year ago. On an adjusted basis EPS was $.82, above the average analyst estimate of $.80.

Meridian finished the fiscal year with $31.6 million in cash and cash equivalents.

The firm also said today that its board has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $.19 per share for fiscal fourth quarter. The dividend is for shareholders of record Nov. 19 and payable on Nov. 30.

For Fiscal Year 2013, the company reaffirmed guidance provided in August. Revenues are expected to be $190 million to $195 million, while EPS is expected to be in the range of $.86 to $.91.

The company is "well-positioned for continued organic growth and operating efficiency," Kraeutler said. About 950 clinical laboratories currently use the illumigene platform, which now includes three molecular tests, C. difficile, Group B strep, and Group A strep, which was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in September.

"While the bulk of these labs are currently using one of our three available assays, more and more are adopting multiple assays," he said, adding that more than 100 labs are buying two assays and several are purchasing all three assays.

Meanwhile, in the Life Science business, Meridian is expanding the Bioline molecular reagents to the industrial diagnostic segment. Emerging global opportunities are also expected to help grow the business, Kraeutler said.

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