Chiron Update: Earnings Top Expectations, Conference Call Upbeat

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By Andrew Morse
Staff Reporter

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Chiron

(CHIR) - Get Report

Thursday morning.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based biotech company served up much-better-than-expected earnings after the bell sounded Wednesday. Fueled by strong sales across four of its five branches, the company reported first-quarter earnings of 9 cents per share, 2 cents better than the 7-cent forecast by

First Call

, which compiles analysts' estimates. Chiron earned 7 cents in the year-ago period.

Analysts were enthusiastic not only about the company's earnings report, but also about an upbeat conference call that finished shortly before 6 p.m. EDT. Chiron management made "very positive remarks about making the company more understandable to the Street," said Margherita Karo, an analyst at

Gilford Securities

.

Chiron, unlike most of its peers, is a biotech conglomerate, with five branches focusing on different areas. Most biotech companies center on one or two products. It has a hit product in its Betaseron multiple sclerosis treatment.

Chiron's shares have been stagnant this year, slipping 1.3%. The stock dropped 3/8 to 17 7/8 Wednesday, but that was ahead of the earnings announcement. With the first quarter behind it, Chiron could be headed in the direction of its 12-month high -- 27 1/4.