BioWhittaker says sales, earnings fell


BioWhittaker Inc., a biotechnology company based in Frederick County, yesterday reported both sales and earnings dropped during its first quarter, partly as a result of severe weather and the federal government shutdown.

The Walkersville-based company, which employs about 450 people, said net income before extraordinary adjustments was $937,000, down from $1.1 million in the year-ago quarter. After extraordinary items, the firm posted a net loss of $1.95 million, or 18 cents a share, compared with a profit of $2.07 million, or 19 cents a share, during the same quarter in 1995.

The results included a $1.7 million charge for settling a lawsuit and a $4 million write-down related to the purchase of Clonetics Corp., a California cell culturing business. The company also reported a one-time gain of $1.1 million from the sale of a portion of its diagnostic test kit business.

Sales were $11.9 million, down 18 percent from $14.5 million a year ago.

Noel Buterbaugh, president and chief executive officer, said he is optimistic about the company's prospects for improved results later this year. He said the divestiture of most of its diagnostic business, the acquisition of Clonetics, and a strategic alliance with Diagnostic Hybrids Inc. should boost company growth.

BioWhittaker's stock lost 87.5 cents yesterday to close at $7.625.

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