Covance Profit Rises

Shares tumble 5%.
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Covance

(CVD)

, a drug development services company, said its earnings rose 15.7% for the first quarter, driven by new business orders and strong performance in its central laboratory services.

The company earned $33.4 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $28.9 million, or 45 cents a share, a year earlier. Earnings included stock option expense of 4 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 51 cents a share.

First-quarter revenue rose 14% from a year ago to $320.5 million.

The company's early development segment revenue was $142.4, up 8.8%. Revenue of the late-stage development segment, which includes central laboratory, rose 18.5% to $178.1 million.

For the full year, the company expects earnings of at least $2.16 a share, including 17 cents a share of option expenses, as against analysts expectation of $2.19 a share.

The company's backlog at end of the quarter was $1.72 billion, up 17.4% from last year.

The company's stock was trading down $2.76 to $58.14.

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