Celera Genomics posts a loss of $117.9 million

Large one-time charge for Axys acquisition

January 24, 2002|By Julie Bell | Julie Bell,SUN STAFF

Celera Genomics Group reported yesterday that its fiscal second-quarter loss nearly quadrupled to $117.9 million despite increased revenue, largely because of a one-time charge related to its recent acquisition of Axys Pharmaceuticals Inc.

The Rockville company said its loss amounted to $1.82 per share on revenue of $35 million. That compares with a loss of $29.7 million, or 49 cents a share, on revenue of $20.3 million in the second quarter a year earlier.

Excluding the $99 million noncash charge, Celera's loss in the quarter was $18.9 million, or 29 cents a share, an improvement over the year-earlier period.

The company plans to discuss the results in a conference call today with investors and analysts. It also is likely to receive questions about the recent departure as president of noted scientist J. Craig Venter, whom the board decided one week ago to replace. Venter, who sparked a race to sequence the human genome by accurately claiming that Celera would do it years ahead of the schedule initially laid out by a government-backed project, is to remain as chairman of the company's scientific advisory board.

Tony White, chairman and chief executive officer of Applera Corp., Celera's Norwalk, Conn.-based parent company, already holds the title of Celera chief executive officer and temporarily will add the title of president until Venter's permanent replacement is hired. The company has said it is looking for an executive with experience in discovering and developing pharmaceuticals, something on which Celera is now focusing.

Celera reported cash and short-term investments of $941 million on Dec. 31, the end of its fiscal second quarter.

The company said its revenue increased principally because of income from new customers who signed up for its online databases of information on genes and proteins, and from genome sequencing done on a contract basis and other services. Sequencing involves putting the myriad bits of DNA found in the nucleus of each cell in an organism in their proper order, essentially providing an outline of the operating instructions for building and running the organism.

"Celera continued to add to its therapeutic discovery capability through internal expansion, the Axys acquisition and new technology collaborations," White said in a statement.

"The online information business continued to expand ... driving large year-over-year increases in revenues and offsetting some of our discovery" research and development costs.

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