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Chembio Diagnostics' loss widens in 4Q

A Chembio Diagnostics scientist in Medford analyzes protoypes

A Chembio Diagnostics scientist in Medford analyzes protoypes of tests the company produces on Oct. 28, 2014. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Chembio Diagnostics Inc. saw its loss widen in the October-December period compared with a year earlier due to higher personnel and acquisition costs, executives said Thursday.

The Medford manufacturer of rapid tests for HIV, syphilis, Ebola, Zika and other infectious diseases reported a loss of $3.2 million in the final three months of last year compared with a loss of $2 million in 2017.

Revenue in the fourth quarter totaled $7.6 million, a year-over-year gain of 27 percent. Much of the growth came from sale of point-of-care tests.

Chembio CEO John J. Sperzel said the company had “strong product sales growth” and made progress on “strategic and operational initiatives that will lay the foundation for continued growth.”

Among the initiatives is a planned consolidation of multiple offices in Medford and a warehouse in Holbrook into one building in Hauppauge, and to use robots for some production work. The $3.9 million project recently won tax breaks from Suffolk County.

Chembio employs 223 people in Suffolk, according its application for tax breaks. The company also has a factory in Malaysia and offices in Germany.

For the year, Chembio reported a loss of $7.9 million compared with a loss of $6.4 million. The company last reported an annual profit in 2013.

Revenue for the year totaled $33.4 million, up 39 percent from 2017.

Sperzel said Thursday that Chembio will have revenue of $36 million to $40 million this year.

Separately, he announced receipt of a contract to supply UNICEF with up to $3.5 million worth of "multiplex" tests. The 15-minute tests, using one sample of blood, can detect three diseases: Zika, chikungunya and dengue.

Sperzel said the contract is contingent on receipt of Europe’s CE mark certification, completion of clinical and analytical performance evaluations and a quality management system inspection.

He said the Zika/chikungunya/dengue test "is a clear advantage compared to other testing options, such as  laboratory tests which are time consuming, or molecular tests which have a short window of detection."

The announcement of the contract and company earnings came after the stock market closed. Chembio shares were down 13 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $6.69 on the NASDAQ stock market on Thursday.

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