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Invitrogen Predicts Human Proteome Chip by 2006 as Revenues Rise Sharply

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Invitrogen disclosed during the company’s quarterly earnings conference call last week that it paid only “some modest upfront money” for its acquisition of Protometrix, but that it was excited about the potential of the technology and expected to capitalize on a “revenue sharing approach” as Protometrix’ products make their way to the marketplace.

“What we didn’t want to do is put a lot of money on the table up front before we’ve proved out the potential of the product,” Invitrogen’s CEO Greg Lucier said during the call. “But needless to say, if you are inside the life sciences industry, protein chips is where the action is.”

Lucier told ProteoMonitor earlier this month that the acquisition price that Invitrogen accepted for Protometrix will be made public at the end of the current quarter, in the company’s 10-Q SEC filing.

Invitrogen acquired Protometrix on April 1, citing the protein array startup’s intellectual property portfolio and the compatibility of its product line with Invitrogen’s Gateway, Molecular Probes, and PanVera technologies (see 4-9-04). Lucier particularly emphasized in last week’s call the strategic advantage of Protometrix to Invitrogen’s Gateway clones, noting that the proteins used in the arrays would be produced by Gateway clones, and that customers, “upon a positive hit [on the chip] ... can go back and get the Gateway clone corresponding to that hit.”

In addition to the yeast proteome chip and several human sub-proteome chips that Invitrogen has already said it plans to release this year, Lucier said during the call that the company will look to expand the platform “moving into liver, blood, cytokines, and other important protein families” in 2005, and would have an entire human proteome chip — in a multiple chip format — available by 2006. As of now, Invitrogen is not looking to increase the density of Protometrix’ chips past the 5,000 proteins per chip that it currently boasts.

The company reiterated that proteomics is a “key focus” for the business, and indicated that more acquisitions could be expected. “PanVera was kind of step one, Probes and labeling onto proteins was step two, Protometrix was step three, and there are steps four, five, and six as well,” Lucier said. He added that Invitrogen was thinking internationally. “I think in the balance of the year, you will see an acquisition probably outside the United States,” he said.

Invitrogen’s revenues climbed almost 40 percent, to $251.3 million in the first quarter of 2004, compared to $180.6 million during the same quarter last year. Most of this increase resulted from BioDiscovery products, in particular from products Invitrogen obtained through its acquisitions of Molecular Probes and PanVera last year.

Research and development costs were $15.7 million, up from $10.6 million during the same quarter in 2003.

Net income for the quarter was $10.5 million, or $.2 per share, down from $16.9 million, or $.34 per share, during the year-ago period. Invitrogen attributed this decrease in earnings to higher amortization of intangibles from acquired businesses and to a $6.8 million charge for the retirement of high cost debt.

As of March 31, Invitrogen had cash and investments of $891.3 million.

— KAM

 

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