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Chiron Turns Around Bottom Line

"We are pleased with our achievements in the past year, particularly our return to the U.S. influenza vaccine market," Pien said in a prepared statement.

Manufacturing problems caused Chiron to cancel all sales of its Fluvirin vaccine in the U.S. during the 2004-05 season. Chiron returned to the market during the 2005-06 season, albeit with a reduced supply of vaccine. Chiron sold 13 million doses of Fluvirin during the current season.

Pien said Chiron should have the manufacturing capacity to produce 40 million doses for the 2006-07, but he added that capacity doesn't equal actual sales.

Fluvirin sales played a role in the improved fourth-quarter and full-year performance, he said, as did expanded royalty and license revenue. Chiron benefited from an 11% tax rate during 2005 vs. 28% in 2004 on a GAAP basis. The reduced tax rate was caused by lower profits in certain foreign locations and the transfer of some product rights in 2004. Chiron doesn't expect such a low tax rate this year.

For all of 2005, the company reported GAAP earnings of $186.6 million, or 97 cents a share, on revenue of $1.92 billion. In the previous year, it earned $78.9 million, or 41 cents a share, on revenue of $1.72 billion.

Among major business units, Chiron said vaccine sales rose 18% to $604 million during 2005. Blood-testing revenue gained 12% to $556 million, and drug revenue added 6% to $629 million. Royalty and licensing fees rose 9% to $317 million.

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