(Reuters) – Genetic testing specialist Qiagen <QIA.DE> should have a targeted test for the coronavirus ready this month and is extremely active in providing products to disease control institutions in China, its interim CEO said on Wednesday.
But while Qiagen could boost profits by focusing on products identifying the coronavirus it will continue to bet on growth in its molecular diagnostics business, rather than uncertain one-off gains, CEO Thierry Bernard told a results conference call.
The company headquartered in the Netherlands, which makes diagnostic kits for cancer and tuberculosis as well as products for identifying viruses, reported better than expected quarterly sales and profit growth late on Tuesday.
Qiagen shares were up 5.6% at 1555 GMT on Wednesday, set for their best day in three months.
Bernard said in a results statement on Tuesday that Qiagen had not included global demand for products that can be used to recognise the coronavirus in its 2020 outlook, given the uncertainties around broader business trends in China.
The company is looking into different variants of coronavirus testing solutions, including options using QIAsymphony, NeuMoDx or a syndromic solution, Bernard told the call on Wednesday.
Qiagen’s increased focus on its molecular diagnostics division is one of the reasons why its adjusted operating margin of 33.5% in the fourth-quarter came in well above its own forecast and the market consensus, analysts have said.
Bernard said the division’s QIAsymphony automation system could become a important source of new growth after its long-established major growth driver, the tuberculosis test QuantiFERON, saw a slowdown in the fourth quarter.
After Qiagen reached a new milestone with more than 2,500 cumulative placements of QIAsymphony in January, the product has become a steady and consistent growth engine and it is planning for more than 200 new placements in 2020, he said.
Thanks to its expanded partnership with DiaSorin, Qiagen should be able to grow QuantiFERON by double digits again in 2020, Berenberg analysts said.
(Reporting by Zuzanna Szymanska; Editing by David Clarke)