Biospherics shutting down lab, laying off 24 workers

November 20, 1993|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Staff Writer

Jettisoning a money-losing operation that threatens the health of the rest of the company, Biospherics Inc. of Beltsville yesterday announced that it was shutting down its analytical chemistry laboratory and laying off 24 workers.

"I certainly don't like what we had to do," said Gilbert V. Levin, chairman and chief executive officer of the company. But he said the laboratory was losing about $500,000 to $1 million annually for the last five years.

The affected employees, all of whom worked at the company's Beltsville headquarters, will be laid off during the next few weeks as the laboratory completes remaining work, Mr. Levin said.

The company will be left with 450 employees -- 260 in Beltsville, 175 at the company's telephone information operation in Cumberland and a 15-person office in Columbia.

The analytical chemistry laboratory, which has been part of Biospherics for 14 years, tested water samples for different operations including water systems, waste treatment plants and toxic waste dumps. In the last nine months, the laboratory has lost $865,000. Combined with new spending of $450,000 to develop a nonfattening, full-bulk sweetener called D-tagatose, the company had a $200,290 loss for the first nine months.

Losses in the laboratory also kept profits in the third quarter down to $47,179, a 85.6 percent drop from a year ago.

The company's stock shot up 72 percent on Oct. 25, to $10.75 a share after the company announced it planned to sell the sweetener in overseas markets early next year. Since then the stock price has dropped, and closed yesterday at $7 a share, down 25 cents.

Biospherics Inc.

.. .. .. .. .. Ticker .. .. .. Yesterday's

.. .. .. .. .. Symbol .. .. .. Cls. .. Chg.

.. .. .. .. BINC . .. .. .. 7 .. .. 1/4

Period ended

Sept. 30 .. .. 3rd qtr. ... .. Year ago .. Chg.

Revenue ... .. $4,204 .. .. .. $4,842 . .. 13.2%

Net Income ... .. $47 .. .. .. . $326 . .. 85.6%

Primary EPS ... $0.01 .. .. ... $0.08 . .. 85.7%

.. .. .. .. .. 9 mos. .. .. .. Year ago .. Chg.

Revenue ... .. $12,261 . .. .. $12,862 ... 4.7%

Net Income .. . $(200) . .. .. .. $660 ... . --

Primary EPS .. $(0.05) . .. .. . $0.17 ... . --

Figures in thousands (except per share data.)

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