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PBI's 2008 Revenues Rise 32 Percent; Firm Set to Launch 'Important' Product in Q2

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Pressure BioSciences officials said this week that the firm remains on track to bring the its cash-burn rate to below $600,000 per quarter in 2009, following a restructuring of the business at the end of 2008.

The comments were made as PBI released its full-year 2008 financial results, which showed that PBI's total receipts increased 32 percent to $852,263 from $645,870 in 2007.

The company said product sales and services swelled 64 percent to $655,252 from $399,787 a year ago. The number of installations of the firm's flagship technology, the PCT Sample Preparation Systems, more than doubled in 2008 to 41 from 20 in 2007, it said.

However, net loss ballooned more than four-fold to $4.9 million from $1.2 million in 2007. The year-ago figure includes a gain of $2 million from the liquidation of PBI's investment in Panacos Pharmaceuticals and $1.2 million in the sale of net assets.

Last December, facing dwindling cash reserves, the company restructured its business as it laid off eight employees, or 40 percent of its staff, shut down some facilities, and scaled back R&D efforts [See PM 12/04/08].

In a conference call, CEO Richard Schumacher said the company has no plans for additional restructuring moves, and that it is headed toward its cash-burn rate goal.

He declined to disclose the current burn rate, but said that in 2008 it averaged between $1 million to $1.1 million per quarter.

"We believe that the major steps that we took [in 2008] have enabled us" to reach the $600,000-per-quarter target, Schumacher said. "The bottom line is that we have reduced our costs and … have had two consecutive quarters where we had double-digit installations, which we've never had before, and we've had sales of [$250,000] or more, which we've never achieved before."

In the past, the company has said that to reach break-even, it would need to sell between 500 and 600 of its PCT systems. This week Schumacher said that is anticipated to happen in 2011.

He also said that he expects its new platform, the PCT-enhanced Protein Digestion System, to launch by July 1. He called the new system, currently in beta testing, "perhaps the most important product in the history of this company."

The company has said the technology will be designed to enable researchers to run up to 16 samples simultaneously on the smaller iteration of an instrument to be launched and up to 48 samples on a larger instrument, compared to one sample and three samples, respectively, that are possible on currently available instruments.

The system, Schumacher said, is directed at mass-spec analysis of samples at small volumes. The current method of breaking down proteins is through enzymatic digestion, which typically needs to be done overnight. The new PCT system would reduce that digestion time to about 30 minutes, he said.

PBI is negotiating possible commercial partnerships for the platform.

"Our hope is that before the end of the year, we will be able to work out a marketing or distribution agreement with one or more companies that are already in the mass-spectrometry marketplace in order to have them help sell this system," Schumacher said.

Also this week, the company said it will request a refund of federal taxes paid for in the 2004 calendar year that will net it $623,000. The five-year carryback of 2008 net operating losses for eligible small businesses was made available by the US federal stimulus package that was signed into law recently. PBI said it plans to file for the refund within the next 90 days.

Anticipating the refund, the company said it has hired back a full-time employee and a part-time employee who were released during last year's restructuring.

As of Dec. 31, 2008, PBI had $918,208 in cash.

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