Shares in Martek Biosciences rose more than 10 percent to close at $24.50 yesterday on news that another health food company will market Neuromins, Martek's dietary supplement product, and that another infant formula maker has launched a product using Martek's nutritional oil additives.
Martek, a Columbia-based company developing products using microalgae, also said yesterday that it struck an agreement with a Dutch biochemicals company to make an oil that Martek developed and markets as an infant formula additive.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day for Martek yesterday was that Novartis Nutrition, S.A., of Barcelona, Spain, has launched a product containing two nutritional oils Martek markets as infant formula additives.
Novartis Nutrition, the infant food division of the former Sandoz AG before it merged with Ciba-Geigy, said it is including the oils in a new product called Pre-Adapta, a formula for premature infants.
Novartis is the third European company to introduce a food product that uses Martek's nutritional oils developed from algae, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA).
Martek said the oils have properties that aid in the development of mental and visual abilities.
Henry "Pete" Linsert Jr., Martek's chief executive officer, said the company hopes that the Novartis announcement is followed by other such announcements in 1997. He expects more companies overseas to sign on to use the oil additives in their food products for premature infants. The nutritional additives are not approved for sale in the United States.
Martek also announced yesterday that Leiner Health Products, based in Carson, Calif., has agreed to market Martek's Neuromins in retail outlets nationwide. The di- etary supplement contains DHA, a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that is considered essential for brain and eye functions.
Leiner, maker of Your Life supplements, is the third health and natural foods supplier to agree to market Neuromins. The product was launched late last year.
Under the agreement, Leiner will sell 100-mg Neuromins capsules under the Your Life label. The companies estimate that the product will arrive this month in more than 52,000 chain drug, supermarket, discount and convenience stores.
Martek said it has developed a process that extracts DHA from microalgae, yielding a highly purified form. The primary source of DHA nutritional supplements had been fish oils until Martek began producing Neuromins.
In yet another development yesterday, Martek announced that it has signed an agreement with Royal Gist-Brocades B.V. under which Gist-Brocades will become Martek's exclusive supplier for the nutritional oil ARA.
Gist-Brocade, based in Delft, the Netherlands, is considered one of the world's market leaders in yeast and bakery ingredients, antibiotics, and food and feed enzymes. As part of the agreement, Martek said, it will receive "guaranteed supplies on advantageous terms and license fees" from Gist-Brocades if certain patents are issued.
Steve Dubin, Martek's chief financial officer, said the company's partnership with the Dutch fermentation firm will result in a "huge increase in our production capacity with little or no capital cost." Martek has a fermentation facility in Kentucky, where it produces its nutritional oils. Aside from tripling Martek's oil production capacity, Dubin said, the agreement with Gist-Brocades should boost his company's ability to deliver ARA at competitive prices.
Pub Date: 1/07/97