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ABI Cites Applied Markets, New Instruments for 'Good' MS Quarter; Analyst Says Bruker 'Key Beneficiary' of Stimulus Funds

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Life Technologies said last week that its mass spectrometry business, housed in its Applied Biosystems group, performed above expectations in the first quarter of 2009 due to shipments of new instruments during the quarter and growth in the applied markets.

Meanwhile, an analyst report from an investment firm said that Bruker could be a "key beneficiary" of stimulus funding for scientific research.

Last week, in the midst of releasing their earnings results, the CEOs of both Life Tech and Bruker announced comparatively positive revenue results for their mass spec businesses.

Life Tech reported that first-quarter revenues for its mass-spec operations posted receipts of $123 million, a 5 percent fall-off compared to Q1 2008, or 1 percent organically. While the results continued a trend of declining revenue-growth, they were above company expectations, leading CEO Greg Lucier to call it a "very good quarter for our mass-spec business."

In a document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said that its mass-spec business benefited from growth in the applied markets and emerging geographies along with a backlog of instruments launched in the fall of 2008.

In October, the company launched the Triple Quad 5500 and the QTrap 5500, the most significant new mass specs by Life Technologies in three years [see PM 10/16/08].

"We exited 2008 with a backlog of our new products and we shipped a good portion of this backlog within the first quarter of 2009," the company said in the SEC document. It added, however, that for full-year 2009, it expects revenues for the mass-spec technology division to be flat to down 10 percent, compared to full-year 2008.

During the quarter ended March 31, the firm reported $7 million in other revenue associated with mass specs. The revenue is associated with protein and mass-spec consumables for instrument platforms and services that were discontinued prior to the merger between Applied Biosystems and Invitrogen in November that resulted in Life Tech.

The company does not expect the revenue line to grow, it said in the SEC filing.

Also last week, Bruker reported that its mass spec business grew in the double digits for the first quarter even as companywide revenues receded 3.3 percent. Organically revenues grew 4.5 percent, the company said.

In a report, Isaac Ro of Leerink Swann said that though all life-science firms are expected to reap a bounty from the stimulus packages from the US, Europe, and parts of Asia, Bruker is a "key beneficiary given the strength of the company's core franchise in the high-end instrumentation categories such as mass spec, NMR, and X-ray crystallography."

Last week, the company also launched it ultrafleXtreme MALDI-TOF/TOF instrument for proteomics [see PM 04/30/09]. In a separate analyst note, Ro called the launch "a small positive for Bruker and small negative for Life Tech," which launched the AB Sciex TOF/TOF 5800 MALDI platform just three weeks earlier.

Ro said that outside estimates have pegged the MALDI-TOF market at more than $250 million in 2008 and growing at a single-digit clip "due to lack of new instrument introdu

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