bioMerieux S.A. (bioMerieux), a vitro infectious disease diagnostics company, has reported net sales of EUR286 million for the first quarter of 2009, up 11.1%, compared with the net sales of EUR257.4 million in the year-ago quarter. In Europe alone, company has reported net sales of EUR166.9 million for the first quarter of 2009, up 5.2%, compared with the net sales of EUR158.5 million in the year-ago quarter.
“Our first-quarter sales growth is in line with our objectives,” commented Stéphane Bancel, bioMérieux’s chief executive officer. “In today’s difficult financial and economic climate, our product diversification, our strong international presence and our recent acquisitions have driven our sales growth. These achievements allow us to confirm our 2009 sales growth target.”
Like-for-like sales for the first quarter of the year varied from region to region.
Sales in the Europe — Middle East — Africa region (accounting for 58% of consolidated sales) reached 5.8%. While sales in France were sustained during the first quarter of 2008 (up 4.1%), they declined slightly over the first three months of 2009, by 0.7%; the French Parliament’s review of the Health Ministry’s Ballereau Report, which aims to change regulations for medical diagnostic laboratories, has dampened instrument sales. Outside France, sales continued to experience solid growth, rising 8.5%. Sales reported in Germany, the UK and South Africa helped drive growth.
Sales from clinical applications remained dynamic, driven in particular by microbiology reagents and molecular biology. In the VIDAS immunoassay line, growth in high medical-value tests remained robust, offsetting a slowdown in routine tests. Sales of industrial applications, which are more sensitive to the economic environment, saw a decline in instrument sales over the quarter.
In North America (25% of consolidated sales), sales rose 3% over the first three months of 2009 in a particularly difficult financial and economic environment.
In clinical diagnostics, instrument sales declined, as certain laboratories were still holding off on deciding to invest in new systems. Due to sporadic flu cases last winter1 , growth in reagent sales was also affected by low demand for blood culture bottles.
Sales of industrial applications rose 7.1%.
In the Asia-Pacific region (11% of consolidated sales), sales continued to climb, increasing 12.5%, driven by solid growth in clinical and industrial applications. Sales of VIDAS immunoassays, in particular, rose significantly in the region.
In Latin America (6% of consolidated sales), growth was driven by healthy sales for all product lines, rising nearly 14%. Virtually all the countries in Latin America reported double-digit growth.
In clinical applications, sales were driven by the VITEK and NucliSENS reagent lines as well as the culture media range. The increase in VIDAS reagent sales was particularly strong in emerging countries, driven by the comprehensive test menu.
In the current context, the company benefits from its market position in diagnostics for infectious diseases, cancers and cardiovascular emergencies. Early diagnosis of these pathologies has a positive impact on patients’ health, alleviates the risks of deterioration of their condition and helps to determine an effective treatment.
In industrial applications, reagent sales were stimulated by strong growth in the BioBall and TEMPO lines; however, growth was negatively impacted by instrument sales.
Overall, sales of reagents and services, which account for the recurring portion of the Group’s business, rose nearly 8%. By the end of March 2009, reagents and services accounted for approximately 92% of consolidated sales, strengthened by the acquisition of three companies — BTF in 2007 and AB BIODISK and PML Microbiologicals in 2008 — that solely distribute reagents.
Other Quarterly Financial Highlights
The Group had 6,228 full-time-equivalent employees as of March 31, 2009; there were 6,140 employees as of December 31, 2008.
Net debt stood at EUR36 million as of March 31, 2009, versus EUR51 million as of December 31, 2008.
bioMérieux has a EUR260 million syndicated line of credit available until January 2013. As of March 31, 2009, drawdowns on the facility amounted to EUR15 million.
First-Quarter Operating Highlights
During the first quarter, bioMérieux launched a new range of innovative culture media (Media Fill Test) for the control of aseptic processes in the pharmaceutical industry. This control is required under Good Manufacturing Practices.
As part of its FMLATM (Full Microbiology Lab AutomationTM) strategy, the company expanded the distribution to new territories of its PREVITM Isola and PREVITM Color Gram platforms, which were launched in 2008. The company has also continued to develop new IT capabilities for its systems, particularly the automated updating of the biological database and remote maintenance.