Martek Biosciences narrows loss to 17 cents a share

3rd quarter is helped by surge in sales of nutritional products

September 14, 2001|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

Martek Biosciences Corp. said yesterday that its fiscal third-quarter loss decreased as sales of its nutritional products climbed 166 percent over the year-earlier period.

The Columbia-based company, which delayed the release of its financial results for two days in the aftermath of Tuesday's terrorist attacks, reported a net loss of $3.3 million, or 17 cents a share, for the quarter that ended July 31. That compares with a net loss of $3.8 million, or 21 cents a share, posted for last year's third quarter.

Nutritional product sales reached $4.95 million, compared with $1.86 million in the 2000 quarter. Most of the increase came from sales of nutritional oils to infant formula companies.

"Sales of nutritional products continue to grow rapidly," Henry Linsert Jr., Martek's chief executive officer, said in a statement. "Production will be expanded."

Martek noted earlier that it would expand production of its nutritional oils after the government cleared the way in May for the sale of infant formula containing its nutritional supplements in the United States. Martek sells the oils to infant formula companies, which must notify the U.S. government at least 90 days before putting any products containing the oils on store shelves. No company in this country has yet launched a product containing the oils.

Meanwhile, Martek has been testing ways to improve yields of one of the oils, known as DHA, made from microalgae in a fermentation process at its Winchester, Ky., plant. The testing has been expensive, with a higher-than-normal number of batches of the product discarded, resulting in increased costs and reduced production in the quarter, the company said. Martek said the cost of third-party production of another oil that is part of its nutritional supplement blend also has been high, but is expected to decrease in 2002.

Total costs and expenses for the quarter were $9.2 million, compared with $6.6 million a year ago.

Shares of Martek last traded Monday, closing at $18.15, down $1.07.

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