Digene loses $1.7 million, half that of '98

Sales rose $4.8 million, up from $3.2 million

Biotechnology

May 07, 1999|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Digene Corp. reported yesterday that it trimmed its third-quarter net loss by 50 percent while sales rose by the same amount.

For the quarter that ended March 31, the Beltsville maker of DNA-based medical tests said its net loss fell to $1.7 million, or 12 cents per share, compared with a loss of $3.4 million, or 25 cents per share, in the corresponding three months last year. Revenue rose to $4.6 million in the quarter from $3.2 million in the corresponding period last year.

Product sales, rather than revenue from research contracts, made up most of the company's earnings. Sales in the quarter rose to $4.8 million, up from $3.2 million in the third quarter of last year.

Evan Jones, Digene's chief executive officer, attributed the strong quarter in part to increased European sales of its human papillomavirus test for women. The infection is considered a leading cause of cervical cancer.

The test -- the Hybrid Capture HPV II -- has recently been approved for use in the United States as a follow-up test for women who have inconclusive Pap smears. It costs about $25.

For the nine-month period, Digene booked a net loss of $6.6 million, or 46 cents per share, compared with a loss of $7.4 million, or 57 cents per share, last year.

The company reported sales of $12 million for its first three quarters, compared with sales of $8.7 million a year ago. Digene said that as of March 31 it had $11.4 million in cash on hand.

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