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Applied Biosystems, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Qualigens, Agilent, Sigma-Aldrich, Protein Discovery, Qiagen, JCSG, Luminex, VWR, Assay Design, ISB

String of Double-Digit Growth in ABI MS Sales Ends; Total Revs up 6.5 Percent
Applied Biosystems this week reported mass spectrometry sales rose to $146. 2 million in its fiscal fourth quarter, an 8.5 percent increase from $134.7 million from a year ago.
Overall, net revenues for the quarter, ended June 30, climbed 6.5 percent to $557.3 million, compared to $523.1 million from a year ago. Profits rose to $87.8 million, a 14.5 percent increase from $76.7 million from a year ago.
Revenues generated by mass spec sales represented 26.2 percent of ABI’s total revenues in the quarter.
The quarter marked the end of a run of four consecutive quarters during which ABI saw double-digit growth in mass spec sales year-over-year. Nonetheless, in a conference call dominated by discussion about the company’s next generation DNA sequencing business, Laura Lauman, president of ABI’s proteomics and small molecule division, said that the demand for mass spectrometry was strong during the quarter for all application areas including proteomics, and all regions.
“Going forward this quarter, there will be more difficult [conditions] versus the prior quarter of last year, but overall the business remains very strong,” she said.
Tony White, interim president of ABI and CEO of parent company Applera, said that new software has simplified using a mass spec, giving the company “a leg up” on areas where the instrument has not typically been used, such as food safety testing.
For the quarter, R&D spending rose to 15.5 percent to $53.5 million, primarily due to investments made in the SOLiD system for next generation sequencing.
For its full fiscal year 2007, mass spec sales rose to $525.4 million, up 12.9 percent from $465.3 million from a year ago, and representing 25.1 percent of ABI’s total full-year revenues. In fiscal 2007, the company recorded $2.1 billion in revenues, a 9.5 percent increase from $1.9 billion in fiscal 2006.
Net income in 2007 dropped to $179.4 million, down 34.8 percent from $275.1 million in 2006.
Profits for 2007 included a charge of $114.3 million related to the purchase of Agencourt Personal Genomics technology, net gains of $2.2 million to settle legal disputes, and an amortization expense of $11.2 million related to acquired intangibles. Together, the items decreased income before taxes by $123.3 million.
As of June 30, ABI had cash and short term investments totaling $494.5 million.

Merger Pumps Up Thermo Fisher Revs 234 Percent in Q2; Set to Buy Qualigens
Thermo Fisher Scientific this week reported revenues of $2.39 billion in the second quarter, compared to $713.5 million a year ago. The more-than-three-fold increase was due largely to the merger of Thermo Electron and Fisher Scientific in November. On a pro forma basis, revenues grew 9 percent.
For the three months ended June 30, the company’s profits rose to $163.9 million, compared to $47.9 million from a year ago.
The company’s analytical technologies division, which houses Thermo Fisher’s mass spectrometers, among other instruments, posted receipts of $1.04 billion, comprising 43.5 percent of the company’s total receipts. During the second quarter of 2006, the division posted revenues of $531.5 million, 74.5 percent of the company’s total revenues.
In a conference call accompanying the release of the quarterly results, Marijn Dekkers, president and CEO of Thermo Fisher, said that customer response to new proteomics instruments such as the LTQ Orbitrap XL and the LTQ Orbitrap Discovery, two hybrid mass spec instruments introduced at this year’s American Society for Mass Spectrometry annual conference, [See PM 06/07/07] has been “very positive,” though he did not provide further details. Peter Wilver, senior vice president and CFO of Thermo Fisher, also singled out the company’s newer mass specs among its portfolio of new products, as a “key growth driver.”
During the quarter, the company spent $58.7 million on R&D. R&D in the analytical technologies division was about $49.8 million.
By region, the company said that revenue growth in North America was “slightly below” the company average, while Europe and Asia grew at “slightly above” the company average. Dekkers attributed the trends to very strong results during the year-ago period in North America while business was just beginning to climb in Europe a year ago. In Asia, he said, the current trend reflects ongoing strength in that market.
The company revised its revenues guidance for full-year 2007 to a range of $9.5 billion to $9.55 billion, from an earlier guidance of $9.4 billion to $9.5 billion.
The company also announced this week it has entered into a deal for the purchase of Qualigens Fine Chemicals, a division of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, based in Mumbai, India. Qualigens is India’s largest laboratory chemical manufacturer and supplier, Thermo Fisher said, and services customers in the pharmaceutical, petrochemical, and food and beverage industries.
Qualigens had sales of $24 million in 2006 and has about 150 employees across the country. The deal is expected to close during the fourth quarter of this year. Thermo Fisher did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Agilent Provides Tools to NJMRC for Systems Biology Training
Agilent said last week it will provide proteomics, genomics, and metabolomics technologies to the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver under a collaboration to provide applications-focused training in systems biology.
Courses will cover clinical proteomics, database searching, and other applications. Among the instruments Agilent is providing are the 6210, 6410, 6510 and 6340 LC-MS platforms and its 1200 Series HPLCs.
The company is also supplying GeneSpring GX and GeneSpring MS software for statistical analysis of array and mass spec data; SpectrumMill software for protein and peptide analysis; and proteomics LC columns.
Nichole Reisdorph, assistant professor of immunology and director of NJMRC’s mass spectrometry facility, is leading the training programs.

Sigma-Aldrich Sales, Profits up 13 Percent in Q2
Sigma-Aldrich this week said that sales climbed 13.2 percent during the second quarter leading to a 13.4 rise in profits.
For the three months ended June 30, sales reached $507.5 million, compared to $448.5 million a year ago. Net income for the second quarter of 2007 was $79.7 million, up from $70.3 million during the year-ago period.
Sigma-Aldrich said it had $190.1 million in cash and cash equivalents as of June 30. The company spent $14.5 million in R&D, up 8.2 percent from a year ago.

Protein Discovery Chooses Worldwide Distributors
Protein Discovery announced this week the selection of eight distributors for its PPS Silent Surfactant, a reagent product for mass spectrometry membrane protein sample preparation.
The distributors and the territories where they will sell the PPS Silent Surfactant are: ProteoMass Australia (Australia and New Zealand); American Health and Medical Supply International (China); Professional Biotech (India); Precision Technologies (Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore); Labogen (Italy); AMR (Japan); Cubu Science (Japan); and GenDiscovery Biotechnology (Taiwan).
Protein Discovery will sell the product directly to customers elsewhere including the US.
Terms of the agreements between Protein Discovery and the other firms were not disclosed.

Qiagen, JCSG to Market Protein Crystallization Screens
Qiagen and the Joint Center for Structural Genomics this week said they have entered into an agreement to commercialize sample preparation technologies for protein crystallography.
Under the agreement, four crystallization screens, each with 96 unique conditions for a total of 384 conditions, will be made available to researchers as the JCSG Core Suites 1-IV. The screens had been made available previously by Qiagen as a customized product. The screens resulted from 500,000 high-throughput crystallization experiments performed at the JCSG. The 384 conditions were chosen because they had the highest hit rates in initial screening, the companies said in a joint statement.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Despite 32 Percent Jump in Revs for Q2, Luminex Sees Profit Turn to Loss
Luminex this week said revenues for the second quarter rose 32.2 percent to $17.5 million from $13 million a year ago.
For the three months ended June 30, the company posted a loss of $3.2 million, compared to a profit of $271,000 a year ago.
R&D expenses more than doubled to $3.87 million during the quarter while selling, general, and administrative costs rose 61 percent to $9.9 million. As of June 30, Luminex had $11.8 million in cash and cash equivalents.

VWR, Assay Design Ink Distribution Deal
VWR will immediately begin making available to North American customers immunoassay kits, reagents, and other products by Assay Designs under a distribution agreement reached between the two companies announced this week.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., Assay Designs manufactures and markets ELISA kits, antibodies, and proteins for life sciences research.

ISB Licenses MetaCore
GeneGo said this week the Institute for Systems Biology has licensed its “omics” data analysis suite, MetaCore and 1-2-3 Workflow. Metacore will be integrated with Cytoscape, an open-source network visualization software supported by ISB.

GeneGo and ISB plan to collaborate on several research projects, the company said, though it did not provide details. Terms of the licensing agreement were also undisclosed.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.