Chiron

(CHIR) - Get Report

posted a fourth-quarter profit of 23 cents per share, compared to a loss in the year-ago quarter.

The Emeryville-based biopharmaceutical firm said net income totaled $45 million, or 23 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $134 million, or 74 cents per share, in the fourth-quarter 2000, which included acquisition-related charges.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 30% to $215.3 million, compared to $165.2 million one year ago.

Take out several charges in the fourth quarter and Chiron earned $51 million, or 26 cents per share, on a pro forma basis, matching Wall Street estimates.

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For 2001, Chiron earnings rose 8% to 96 cents per share on a pro forma basis, compared to 89 cents per share in 2000. The 2001 results beat Wall Street consensus estimates by a penny.

During the company's conference call with analysts, Chiron CEO Sean Lance discussed the company's delayed NAT blood testing system, also known as Procleix, stating that the company "looks forward to

Food and Drug Administration approval in 2002."

Lance did not address why Procleix wasn't approved in 2001, as the company had previously forecast, but said the Procleix application was moving steadily through the FDA approval process.

Some Wall Street analysts have taken down their 2002 earnings forecasts because of the Procleix delay, but Wednesday Chiron reaffirmed previous earnings guidance for 2002 of $1.10 per share to $1.20 per share. The company also expressed confidence that it can still grow earnings by 25% over the next several years, despite this year's single-digit earnings growth.

Analysts are looking for 2002 earnings of $1.15 per share, according to consensus estimates compiled by Thomson Financial/First Call.

Shares of Chiron closed Wednesday down 92 cents, or 2%, to $41.12 per share.