Surging sales boost Digene's profit in 3Q

Also, biotech company announces federal OK of high-speed test for cancer

May 07, 2004|By William Patalon III | William Patalon III,SUN STAFF

Digene Corp., a Gaithersburg biotechnology company, reported yesterday a fiscal third-quarter profit on surging sales, and also announced federal approval of a high-speed test to screen women for cervical cancer.

Digene reported earnings of $2.5 million, or 12 cents a share, for the three months that ended March 31. That's a turnaround from a net loss of $600,000, or 3 cents per share, for the same quarter last year, and beat analysts' consensus forecast of 7 cents a share, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Revenue vaulted 39 percent to $23.6 million, from $17 million for the comparable quarter last year.

"Digene made significant accomplishments in the third quarter of fiscal 2004, setting the stage for future successes," said Evan Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

Most of the growth was attributable to burgeoning sales of Digene's chief product - its human papillomavirus cervical cancer screening test - which brought in $14.3 million, an increase of 38 percent over the third quarter of last year, the company said.

Yesterday, Digene said that another of its cervical cancer tests - this one aimed at potentially higher-risk women - was approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This test can be processed at a higher speed, enabling medical labs to run more tests at a time and patients to get their results more quickly.

Digene had received similar approval for "high-throughput" tests for such diseases as chlamydia and gonorrhea - two afflictions whose increases often signal accompanying jumps in HIV and AIDS.

On Wednesday, Digene said its DNAwithPapTest screening product was listed as an approved test by United Healthcare, a unit of UnitedHealth Group Cos., a major U.S. health-plan firm with an estimated 20.2 million members. The news drove Digene's shares up nearly 10 percent, or $3.38, to close at $37.86 that day. Yesterday, shares closed at $37.50, down 36 cents.

Digene said it expects revenue for fiscal 2004, which ends June 30, of $90 million to $92.5 million. Net income should range from $6.5 million to $7.5 million, or 31 cents to 36 cents per share. Analysts had been forecasting per-share profits of 29 cents for this year and 77 cents for fiscal 2005, according to Zacks.

In fiscal 2003, Digene recorded a net loss of $4.3 million, or 24 cents per share, on sales of $63.1 million.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.