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Meridian posts greater 1Q income, but shares slip

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Diagnostic test maker Meridian Bioscience Inc. said Wednesday that its fiscal first-quarter net income grew 29 percent on more testing for bacterial infections and respiratory illnesses like the flu.

Meridian said its U.S. business did well, but sales in Europe declined because of the weak economy. It also said its business suffered because of the timing of orders from some large customers, but said it expects strong second-quarter results and backed its forecasts for the full year. Meridian shares dipped about 4 percent in morning training.

The company said its net income increased to $8.5 million, or 20 cents per share, over the three months that ended Dec. 31. A year earlier Meridian said it earned $6.6 million, or 16 cents per share. Revenue rose 13 percent, to $45.4 million from $40.1 million

Analysts were expecting net income of 19 cents per share and $44.3 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Meridian said revenue from testing for C. difficile, a bacterium that can cause diarrhea and colon inflammation, rose 13 percent compared with a year ago. Food testing revenue also improved, and the company reported $1 million in flu testing revenue. Total respiratory testing increased 42 percent from a year ago.

The company said it continues to project net income of 86 to 91 cents per share on $190 million to $195 million in revenue for the full fiscal year. Analysts expect income of 87 cents per share and $189.8 million in revenue on average.

Meridian shares lost 82 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $20.65 in morning trading. The stock reached an annual high of $21.56 on Tuesday.