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Quidel's Crucial Test


Inside Wall Street

QUIDEL'S CRUCIAL TEST

Unlike most CEOs, Scott Glenn isn't gun-shy about forecasting his company's earnings. The chairman and chief executive of Quidel insists that he doesn't just plan on meeting analysts' earnings expectations of $1.4 million, or 10 a share, next year. He expects to beat them by a wide margin.

A maker of simple and fast-acting diagnostic tests for pregnancy, infectious diseases, and auto-immune disorders, Quidel earned 3 a share in 1992 after losing 47 in 1991. And 1992 sales of $27 million just matched 1991's.

So what's behind Glenn's rosy outlook? For one thing, he expects Quidel's Safeplan test to be a big hit next year. Safeplan determines the maximum number of infertile days in a woman's menstrual cycle. Glenn thinks European chemical and pharmaceutical giant AKZO, which has the licensing rights to market Safeplan in Europe, will start selling the product early next year.

Glenn sees European sales hitting $30 million next year, adding about 30 a share to the bottom line. In the first quarter alone, he expects Safeplan sales to reach $5 million and net 5 a share. In the U.S., Scott expects to file an application with the Food & Drug Administration to market Safeplan.

"Test results in the U.S. and Europe were fine," notes John Girton, an analyst at Van Kasper, a San Francisco investment firm. Investors, he says, have been underestimating the worth of Quidel's many test kits, including Conceive, a one-step, one-minute test that allows women to detect a pregnancy as early as the first day of a missed menstrual cycle. Girton thinks Quidel shares, currently trading at 4 5/8, will double over the next 12 months. GENE G. MARCIAL


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