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Industry Briefs: Mar 5, 2009


The item about NextGen Sciences has been corrected to reflect its proper name.

Bruker Q4 Revs Shrink 8.6 Percent; Maintains Focus on R&D for 2009

Bruker this week said that fourth-quarter revenues dropped 8.6 percent to $315.2 million while profits fell 35 percent to $26.2 million.

In the year-ago comparison, the company posted receipts of $344.8 million and a profit of $40.3 million.

In a statement, Frank Laukien, president and CEO of the firms, said that the quarter was its strongest of the year and Bruker saw "strong new order bookings" and ended the year with a "healthy backlog." However, margins were "well below our goals."

The company has implemented cost-cutting measures, including voluntary top-management salary cuts, selected staff reductions, hiring and salary freezes for the year, and reductions in discretionary spending.

In a conference call accompanying the release of its results, Laukien also said that the firm will continue to focus on its R&D pipeline and added that "major new products" will be launched at next week's Pittcon conference, as well as other conferences throughout the year.

R&D spending for the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2008, inched up 8.9 percent compared to the year-ago period to $33 million.

For full-year 2008 Bruker revenues climbed 7.2 percent to $1.11 billion, compared to $1.03 billion in 2007. Net income slid 34.4 percent to $64.9 million from $98.9 million.

The company spent $133.8 million on R&D in 2008, compared to $110.8 million in 2007.

As of Dec. 31 the company had $167.7 million in cash, short-term investments, and restricted cash.

Separately, the company said this week also that it has opened its Massachusetts demonstration facility for the maXis mass spectrometer.

The instrument, introduced at last year's American Society for Mass Spectrometry annual conference, has a resolution of 40,000 to 60,000 FWHM, MS and MS/MS mass accuracy between 600 and 800 ppb, and speeds of up to 20 full spectra per second.

NextGen Sells Electrophoresis Biz to Sigma-Aldrich, Completing Transition to Biomarker Services Firm

NextGen Sciences took its final step to become an exclusively biomarker-discovery and -validation services firm, announcing this week it has sold its electrophoresis business to Sigma-Aldrich.

The sale "completes the disposal of our non-core businesses, enabling us to focus on our" protein biomarker services, Mike Pisano, CEO of NextGen, said in a statement.

The deal involves the acquisition by Sigma of the a2DEoptimizer, an automated gel-casting unit, and optigels, the range of premium large format pre-cast gels. Sigma will focus primarily on the supply of optigels, initially in North America and Europe.

In the statement, Dale Peluso, strategic marketing manager for Sigma-Aldrich, said the company "has been impressed with the quality and reputation of optigels and look[s] forward to delivering that quality through the Sigma-Aldrich brand."

NextGen will receive a cash payment and royalty payments on revenues for three years. Additional financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

NextGen's biomarker services business, called biomarkerexpress, was launched in November 2007 [See PM 11/15/07]. This past December, as part of its effort to focus on that business, the company announced it had sold its automation and software business to eXeTek, a NextGen spinout. It also said it would close its UK facility and move its headquarters to Ann Arbor, Mich. [See PM 12/11/08].

A spokesman for NextGen said this week that a sales office remains in the UK, and the company remains listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market.

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Bio-Rad Q4 Revs Down 2.6 Percent

Bio-Rad Laboratories last week reported a 2.6 percent year-over-year decline in sales during the fourth quarter of 2008 to $448 million from $459.7 million.

On a currency-neutral basis, sales rose 3 percent during the period, the company said.

Life Science sales were down 7.7 percent for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008 to $170.3 million. On a currency-neutral basis, sales in the segment declined 3 percent.

The company said that a drop in capital instrument sales, reflecting cutbacks by both the academic and bio-pharmaceutical customers, negatively impacted the segment during the quarter. Sales of Bio-Rad's protein separation and analysis tools, including electrophoresis and chromatography products, however, were up though the company did not elaborate.

The Clinical Diagnostics segment saw sales inch up .9 percent during the fourth quarter to $274 million. Sales were up 7.2 percent on a currency-neutral basis.

The company posted a loss of $8.2 million during the quarter, compared to a profit of $12.4 million a year ago. The latest results include non-cash impairment charges of $35 million, which include charges of $28.8 million for the impairment of goodwill and purchase intangibles and $6.2 million for the impairment of investments.

R&D expenses for the period were $41.1 million, up 3.2 percent from a year ago. The company reported $204.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

For full-year 2008, Bio-Rad posted a 20.8 percent increase in sales to $1.8 billion, compared to $1.5 billion for full-year 2007. Profits shrunk 3.7 percent to $89.5 million from $93 million a year ago.

R&D spending rose 13.5 percent to $159.5 million for the year.

During a conference call accompanying the release of its earnings, company officials said they have implemented a hiring freeze and "curtailed some expenses" in light of the global economic downturn. Norman Schwartz, president and CEO of Bio-Rad, however, said that there are no plans for layoffs presently.

Waters' Board OKs $500M Stock Repurchase

Waters said this week its board has authorized the repurchase of $500 million of its common shares during the next 24 months.

The previous $500 million stock-repurchase program authorized in February 2007 has expired and was "substantially completed," the company said in a statement.

Purchases will be made through open-market transactions, Waters said.

Pressure BioSciences Q4 Revs Nearly Double

Pressure BioSciences this week reported a 92 percent increase in revenues for the fourth quarter, driven by a 97 percent increase in sales of its flagship technology.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2008, the firm posted receipts of $334,041 up from $174,071 in the year-ago period. Sales of its PCT products and services rose to $233,256 from $118,703 from a year ago.

Net loss for the period shrunk 7.6 percent to $898,484 from $972,516 a year ago.

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Despite the revenue increase, Richard Schumacher, president and CEO of Pressure BioSciences, called the fourth quarter "extremely difficult." In December, the company announced a restructuring that included a reduction in its workforce to 12 from 20, a cut in some R&D projects, and the closure of an R&D facility in Maryland [See PM 12/04/08].

In the quarter, the company spent $481,435 in R&D, a 4.5 percent decline from $503,879 a year ago. As of Dec. 31, it had $918,208, down from more than $5.4 million on Dec. 31, 2007.

PSI's Analysis XML Looking for Public Comment

A draft release of AnalysisXML is ready for public comment.

The format is for use in reporting results from different database search engines using mass spec data and was developed by the Human Proteome Organization's Proteomics Standards Initiative.

The schema, examples, and documentation can be found here. Comments and feedback can be sent using the link at the bottom of that page or directly to the psi-dev mailing list.

Pfizer Applying Xencor Antibody Technologies

Antibody firm Xencor said this week it will provide Pfizer access to its antibody optimization technology under a licensing and evaluation agreement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will have access to Xencor's Xtend antibody half-life prolongation technology and XmAb ADCC-enhancing technology during a non-exclusive research period for evaluation in several of its discovery projects. Pfizer also has taken a commercial license to Xencor's technology for one program.

The drug firm will apply the two technologies to its antibody drug candidates.

Xencor will receive an upfront payment and is eligible for payments from Pfizer based on its successful commercialization of products using Xencor's technology.

Additional financial details were not disclosed.