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12:00 AM
Mar 10, 2003
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Suppliers face moving targets

The post-genomics era hasn't been kind to the supplier space. Since Applied Biosystems Group announced in March 2001 that purchasers had reduced spending on capital equipment like its flagship ABI Prism 3700 DNA sequencer, other companies in both the instrument and reagents markets have reduced their top line expectations. Now a more complex picture is emerging: overall demand for instruments continues to look soft, while consumables are expected to show decent growth.

The numbers for 2002 paint a somewhat gloomy portrait, as revenues for most suppliers grew at rates below those seen in 2001 (see "Eroding Top Line"). But more important is what the numbers say about the future, and what's clear from conversations with various companies is that the needs of the buyers are changing as the direction of research has shifted.

"The market has not worsened; the market has changed," said Peer Schatz, CFO at Qiagen N.V. (NMarkt:QIA; QGENF, Venlo, the Netherlands). "Through the late '90s and parts of 2000, pharma threw money at a lot of different tools and concepts." But starting in 2002, he said, "we see they are getting much more selective - there's less trying out of different tools."

In addition, a trend previously noted by ABI is becoming apparent to all, as the market transitions from large-scale biology projects such as the sequencing of the human genome to smaller scale projects conducted at a variety of individual labs (see BioCentury, Nov. 11, 2002). Understanding the...

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