Filtration specialist Millipore has reported strong growth in sales in the fourth quarter of 2003, suggesting that the fortunes of the biopharmaceutical industry - Millipore's primary customer - may be on the up.
Fourth-quarter sales rose 16 per cent to $216 million, helped by the weakness of the dollar and topping analysts' estimates of $201 million by some margin. In local currency terms the increase was 7 per cent. For the full-year, Millipore posted revenues of $800 million, up 14 per cent.
Millipore makes filtration products used in drug manufacturing and development and its financial performance often serves as a barometer of the fortunes of the biopharmaceutical industry.
The full-year results are a welcome indications that an improvement in the third quarter of 2003 has been maintained through to the end of the year.
The company's operating profits actually shrank slightly in the quarter, down 5 per cent to $27.5 million, owing to a one-off charge of $8 million relating to severance costs and asset write-offs, but net income rose 63 per cent to $32.6 million on the back of a $12 million tax benefit.
Fran Lunger, Millipore's CEO, said: "operating results for the fourth quarter were better than expected. Revenue growth in the US was particularly strong."
In terms of markets, Millipore's biotechnology business grew 7 per cent, life sciences was up 11 per cent and 'other bioscience' climbed 6 per cent, all in local currencies."
Geographically, Millipore's fourth-quarter revenue grew 12 per cent in the Americas to $89 million, while European turnover increased 19 per cent during the same quarter to $86 million, while Asia/ Pacific was up 18 per cent to $41 million.