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bioMerieux Reports Preliminary 2008 Results

bioMerieux S.A. (bioMerieux), a vitro infectious disease diagnostics company, has reported preliminary net sales of EUR1.1 billion for the full year of 2008, compared with the preliminary net sales of EUR1 billion in the year-ago period. It has posted net sales of EUR311 million for the fourth quarter of 2008, compared with the net sales of EUR284.7 million in the year-ago quarter.

“bioMérieux performed well in the fourth quarter in a much more challenging economic environment,” commented chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel. “Full-year sales rose 7.5% like-for-like, meeting the targets set a year ago. Our performance shows the strength of our business model and reaffirms our 2012 strategic plan objectives.”

Geographically, like-for-like sales for full-year 2008 may be analyzed as follows:

Sales in the Europe – Middle East – Africa region, which accounted for 60% of consolidated business, increased by 7.5% over the period. Operations outside France continued to expand at a sustained pace, gaining 9.6% for the year. Despite the economic slowdown, growth remained robust in Germany (up 12%), Spain (up 8%) and the United Kingdom (up 7%). The new South African subsidiary got off to a good start, and the contract to supply assays to quantify HIV viral load was extended for a further year. Sales in the Middle East climbed 14%. In France (16% of the consolidated total), sales rose 2.2%, in line with the market. A reorganization of the sector is planned, following recommendations made in the French Health Ministry’s Ballereau Report. In anticipation of this change, laboratories are being cautious, slowing sales growth.

Clinical applications experienced sustained growth, led by the VITEK2 line, VIDAS immunoassay reagents (including high medical value tests, particularly VIDAS B.R.A.H.M.S. PCT and VIDAS NTproBNP) and molecular biology. In spite of a greater sensitivity to the economic environment, industrial applications sales expanded by more than 8%, with all of the lines contributing to growth. Spurred by the launch of new reagents, the TEMPO range saw sales surge nearly 25%.

In North America (22% of the consolidated total), sales ended the year up 1.6%, after rising by a sharp 10.2% in 2007. Sales were dampened by flat demand as customers, mainly from the private sector with labs that are already highly automated, postponed purchases of new systems. In this environment, North American instrument sales fell by 20% during the year, versus growth of nearly 25% in 2007. Overall growth in the region was led by the 6% increase in reagent sales. In the United States, second-half sales increased over the 2008 first-half despite the tighter economy.

In the Asia-Pacific region (11% of the consolidated total), sales rose 15.2%, reflecting gains of 24% in China, 16% in South Korea and 27% in India. In Japan, sales by the joint venture with Sysmex were stable (up 1%) in a difficult market.

In clinical applications, growth was led by the microbiology lines and the VIDAS® immunoassay line, up nearly 17%. Sales of industrial applications rose more than 22%.

In Latin America (7% of the consolidated total), growth remained robust across the region, driving an overall increase in sales of nearly 16%. In Brazil, sales were up 9%, thanks to sustained strong sales at the end of the year.

Clinical application sales were lifted by the solid growth of the microbiology lines. Microplate sales reported satisfactory growth in a highly competitive environment. In the industrial segment, sales continued to expand rapidly in every country of the region.

Other Quarterly Financial Highlights

The installed base rose to around 53,000 instruments at December 31, 2008, following the placement of 3,900 new instruments with customers during the year.

After taking into account the acquisitions of PML Microbiologicals, AB BIODISK and AviaraDx, as well as salesforce reorganization in the United States and Japan, the Group had a total of 6,140 full-time equivalent employees at December 31, 2008. There were 5,771 employees at December 31, 2007.

Earnings are expected to benefit from the fact that operating expenses are in line with projections.

Net debt stood at EUR50 million at December 31 2008, after the dividend payment and the acquisition of AB BIODISK, AviaraDx and PML Microbiologicals. Net cash amounted to €15 million at year-end 2007.

bioMérieux has a EUR260 million syndicated line of credit available until January 2013. At December 31, 2008, drawdowns on the facility amounted to EUR65 million.