Biospherics Inc. said it continued its modest break into the black during the fourth quarter, as the Beltsville company boosted revenue from its information services division and prepared for the introduction of its D-tagatose sweetener in international markets.
D-tagatose is a sugar made from whey, a little-used byproduct of cheesemaking. Unlike other low-calorie sweeteners, the product has about the same bulk as table sugar and can be used more readily in candies than other substitutes. The company said its sweetener's other advantage is that it does not break down when heated, making it potentially more useful for baking than competitors such as NutraSweet.
Biospherics said it is working with contract producers to design the manufacturing process for D-tagatose, and has chosen the name "Sugaree" for marketing purposes. The product is expected to be introduced in Australia and the Pacific Rim after the negotiations are complete. Biospherics has already announced the formation of marketing joint ventures for Sugaree, which has not yet been approved for marketing in the United States.
"We believe that the potential market for this product is tremendous," said Arthur S. Locke III, the company's director of finance, who said the company hopes to get the product into Asian markets this year. "We think it satisfies a niche for a nonfattening full bulk sweetener with a nice clean taste."
The company also said its Information Services Division, which provides telecommunications and database management services focused on health-related information to clients, earned a 19 percent revenue increase in the quarter by increasing its sales to private businesses.
Mr. Locke said about 60 percent of the division's sales are to private clients, and 40 percent to government agencies.
Biospherics said it earned $155,778 during the last three months of 1994 on $4.1 million in sales. For the full year, it lost $91,672.