Meridian Bioscience first quarter net sales increase 8% to $40.3 million

Meridian Bioscience, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio (NASDAQ: VIVO) today:

  • reported first quarter net sales of $40.3 million, an increase of 8% from the same period of the prior fiscal year;
  • reported first quarter operating income of $9.8 million, an increase of 8% over the same period of the prior fiscal year;
  • reported first quarter net earnings of $6.6 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, increases of 9% and 7%, respectively, compared to the same period of the prior fiscal year. On a non-GAAP basis, earnings were $6.9 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, excluding the effect of costs associated with the consolidation of its Saco, Maine operations into its Tennessee facility (see non-GAAP financial measure reconciliations);
  • declared the regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.19 per share for the first quarter of fiscal 2012, (indicated annual rate of $0.76 per share), the same as the regular quarterly rate of fiscal 2011; and
  • reaffirmed its fiscal 2012 guidance of per share diluted earnings between $0.85 and $0.89 (excluding plant consolidation costs of $0.01-$0.02) on net sales of $183 million to $192 million.


In Thousands, Except per Share Data


John A. Kraeutler, Chief Executive Officer, said, "We made progress in the first quarter by focusing on the technologies and products that will ensure our long term success. Overall, total revenue growth of 8% yielded net earnings growth of 9%. While these results are positive, especially in a weak economy, we believe our potential for growth continues to increase. Our key focus areas, led by the illumigene® molecular amplification platform, provided the greatest sales contributions to the quarter. Our overall C. difficile business grew by 27% worldwide. In addition, tests for foodborne disease improved by 24%, our H. pylori category grew 2% and Life Science rebounded with 10% growth led by a strong 13% performance from our recently acquired Bioline unit. The adoption of the illumigene technology platform continued with nearly 750 total placements worldwide, an increase of approximately 100 new customers since our last report 10 weeks ago. In addition, illumigene Group B Strep (GBS) for testing patients during pregnancy to prevent the transmission of disease to the newborn, received FDA clearance to market in December and our early results are very encouraging. ImmunoCard® GDH, a rapid screening test for C. difficile, was also cleared by the FDA in December. This test is ideal for hospital laboratories that may be financially constrained and cannot afford to perform illumigene molecular testing on all patient samples.

Life Science revenues were strong in both the core (+8%) and the Bioline (+13%) units. In the core business, a rebound in orders for rubella and hepatitis A proteins led the growth. For Bioline, the new SensiFAST and MyTaq PCR components continued their leadership roles in the research products category.

Looking ahead, the outlook is bright. Our near term focus continues to be on maximizing overall illumigene placements while adding illumigene Group B Strep on existing systems. Our illumigene Mycoplasma test is now in clinical trials and it will be followed by illumigene Group A Strep in the near future. We continue to expect to launch three to four new illumigene tests per year for the foreseeable future. Our Life Science business is strong and it is expected to perform at or above expectations for the year. Our European diagnostics business continues to be a drag on performance and it is expected that the management and organizational changes we made last year will take several more quarters to make a measureable difference."

William J. Motto, Executive Chairman of the Board, said, "During fiscal 2012 we look forward to higher illumigene revenues driven by more units in the field and greater utilization. We continue to carefully watch efficiency measures, control costs, enjoy a strong cash flow from operations, and have an unleveraged and conservative balance sheet. In Q1 we generated $2.6 million of cash after our payment of dividends. Over the past few years we continued to invest in our future while maintaining a robust dividend. These investments are now paying off and we are building cash once again. We are comfortable with our current sales and earnings guidance as well as our cash dividend rate for fiscal 2012. The Bioline acquisition has met our expectations and we continue to look for other similar opportunities."


The Board of Directors declared the regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.19 per share for the first quarter ended December 31, 2011. The dividend is of record February 3, 2012 and payable February 17, 2012. This annual indicated dividend rate of $0.76 per share remains the same as the rate in fiscal 2011. Guided by the Company's policy of setting a payout ratio of between 75% and 85% of each fiscal year's expected net earnings, the actual declaration and amount of dividends will be determined by the Board of Directors in its discretion based upon its evaluation of earnings, cash flow requirements and future business developments, including acquisitions.


For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2012, management expects net sales to be in the range of $183 million to $192 million and per share diluted earnings to be between $0.85 and $0.89. The per share estimates assume an increase in average diluted shares outstanding from approximately 41.4 million at fiscal 2011 year end to 41.5 million at fiscal 2012 year end. The sales and earnings guidance provided in this press release does not include the impact of any acquisitions the Company might complete during fiscal 2012 or charges of $0.01-$0.02 diluted earnings per share in fiscal 2012 associated with the consolidation of its Maine operations into its Tennessee facility (see non-GAAP financial measure reconciliations).


The Company's financial condition is sound. At December 31, 2011, current assets were $89.4 million compared to current liabilities of $16.6 million, resulting in working capital of $72.8 million and a current ratio of 5.4. Cash and short-term investments were $26.2 million and the Company had 100% of its borrowing capacity under its $30,000,000 commercial bank credit facility. The Company has no bank-debt obligations outstanding.


Meridian Bioscience, Inc.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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