Millipore has reported a hike in third quarter sales and profits on the back of a revival in the biotechnology industry's fortunes, but said this may not last to the end of the year.
The company, which specialises in filtration and separation technologies for the biosciences industry, said that net income in the third quarter was $24.6 million (€21.2m), up 30 per cent on the same period of 2002, with earnings per share at 50 cents versus 39 cents. Sales rose 13.6 per cent to $200 million, with around 5 per cent of the gain afforded by the dollar's weakness relative to the euro.
The company's biotechnology business, which includes its biopharmaceutical production activities, was the strongest performer with 16 per cent growth, while its life sciences and biosciences divisions both managed a 5 per cent hike.
Millipore's financial performance often tracks that of the biotechnology industry, and the signs are that sentiment towards the latter has been improving latterly. After an Initial Public Offering drought of several months, October has seen something of an IPO rush in the USA, and Europe looks likely to follow, although probably not until the new year. Most importantly, the number of new biological drugs being approved is increasing.
Fran Lunger, Millipore's CEO, told a conference call last night that the strong performance in biotechnology reflects an increase in demand for process chromatography media for the validation of new processes for existing drugs. Other drivers of growth were systems for the initial manufacturing ramp-up of drugs currently in late-stage clinical trials, and consumables used in the manufacture of already-marketed medicines proved to be yet another driver of growth.
Lunger also said that "based on early indications in the fourth quarter, we do not expect to achieve biotechnology revenue growth at the same level as the third." However, he suggested that long term growth prospects in biotechnology remain strong, given the number of biotherapeutics coming through the R&D pipeline.
It has been estimated that biopharmaceuticals will rise from the present handful of drugs to make up 30 per cent of the total €700 billion market for pharmaceuticals in 2010.