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Beckman Misses Quarterly Forecasts but Upbeat on '03

October 26, 2002|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

Beckman Coulter Inc. on Friday delivered a cautiously optimistic forecast for 2003 after the maker of medical diagnostic equipment delivered third-quarter results that fell short of expectations.

Net income for the Fullerton-based company slipped to $32.1 million, or 49 cents a share, from $33 million, or 52 cents, in the same period a year ago. Per-share earnings were 13 cents below the company's predictions at the end of the second quarter.

Sales rose 5% from the year-earlier period, but currency-hedging expenses squeezed the bottom line, the company said.

Chairman John P. Wareham blamed what he called a sustained and surprisingly sharp decrease in biotech and pharmaceutical industry research spending for missing forecasts.

Beckman Coulter, which has more than 9,500 employees, designs, manufactures and markets instruments, chemistry equipment, software and other supplies that are used in such fields as medical research and drug discovery.

Chief Financial Officer Amin I. Khalifa said the firm was well-positioned to take advantage of renewed research spending, but said that was not expected to occur until mid- or late 2003.

For 2003, the company expects sales to grow 5.5% to 6.5% and earnings to rise 11% to 13%.

Beckman Coulter shares rose 6 cents to $28.77 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Merrill Lynch Global Securities analyst Timothy Lee said investors were taking a wait-and-see approach.

"They are looking for some sign of a rebound" in research spending, "but that has yet to be seen," Lee said.

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