Chiron Profit Slides

Chiron ( CHIR) shares perked up after the end of trading Wednesday, as the company beat Wall Street estimates by a penny, despite announcing earnings that were down from last year's quarter.

Chiron announced second-quarter net earnings of $44.5 million, or 23 cents a share, down from $62 million, or 33 cents a share a year ago. On a pro-forma basis using continuing operations, the company said it earned $48 million, or 25 cents a share, beating the 24-cent Wall Street estimate but slumping from the $67 million, or 35 cents a share, it had last year.

The company said that the year-over-year earnings slump was due primarily to the company's acquisition of PowderJect, which makes the Fluvirin influenza vaccine, and lower royalties from Betaseron, a multiple sclerosis treatment, which accounted for an 11-cent decrease in earnings per share.

After dropping $1.80, or 4%, to $42.71 during Wednesday's session, shares of Chiron perked up 47 cents, or 1.1%, to $43.18 in after hours trading.

"Chiron has delivered solid financial results and made substantial progress toward completing our 2004 milestones," said Howard Pien, Chiron's president, CEO and chairman. "The second half of the year will yield further progress. We expect to deliver beyond our initial estimates for the 2004-2005 influenza season, bringing an additional 2 million doses of Fluvirin to the U.S. market."

Revenue came in at $393.6 million, up 11% from the year-ago $350.3 million, but short of the $402 million expected by Wall Street. Product sales rose 20% year over year, driven by strength in the company's vaccine business, which had $101 million in sales, a 17.4% increase from last year.

But rising expenses offset the rise in sales. In the second quarter, the company said that expenses came in at $363.7 million, up 31.5% from the $276.5 million it had a year ago. The company's cost of sales rose 34.1% year over year, while selling, general and administrative costs rose 33.3%.

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