December 17, 2008 / 12:40 PM / in 9 years

UPDATE 2-MDS slides to loss, to stop providing outlooks

* Adjusted EPS $0.02 vs $0.10

* Revenue $295 million vs $307 million

* Says will stop providing outlook on results

* Shares up 0.5 percent in New York (Adds details; in U.S. dollars unless noted)

TORONTO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Medical sciences company MDS Inc MDS.TO MDZ.N reported a quarterly loss on Wednesday, hurt by weak performances at two of its three key divisions and a hefty writedown for the Maple medical-isotope reactor.

MDS, which specializes in analytical instruments, molecular imaging and contract research, also said that it expects its 2009 capital expenditures would be flat to lower than in 2008, but said it was in a good position to weather the economic downturn given its strong cash flow and balance sheet.

But Chief Executive Stephen De Falco added on a conference call with analysts that it would not provide any further forecasts for its quarterly results.

The company changed tack in 2008 when it began providing outlooks on its financial performance.

“I‘m not surprised by that ... They have no reason to give guidance going forward, because many of the markets that they are in are not easily forecast,” said Maher Yagi, an analyst at Desjardins Securities in Montreal.

“I don’t think they have anything to hide. They are just being cautious.”

The company stunned investors last week when it warned of a writedown and said the charges would result in a net loss below its 2008 target range.

This was shown in its results on Wednesday when MDS said it lost $255 million, or $2.11 a share, compared with a profit of $15 million, or 13 cents a share, last year.

The 2008 figures included a $246 million writeoff related to the Maple medical reactor project. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd said in mid-May it was halting work on the project because of rising costs and technical problems.

Maple had been slated to replace an aging reactor in Chalk River, Ontario, and would have supplied MDS with medical isotopes used in cancer tests or medical research.

Adjusted earnings per share were 2 cents, down from 10 cents in the prior year. Revenue was $295 million, down from $307 million for the same time last year.

Analysts had expected an average of 7 cents a share before items and revenue of $295.3 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

However, MDS said the fourth-quarter results were preliminary and did not include a $270 million to $370 million estimated writedown of MDS Pharma Services’ goodwill that was announced earlier this month. It expects to report final results in January and further charges could come at that unit.

MDS shares were not trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange due to a technical glitch at the TSX. They were up 0.5 percent at $6.18 in New York.

The Toronto-based company also said on Wednesday it would accelerate the transfer of some of its operations to Asia from North America resulting in the loss of about 200 jobs. ($1=$1.20 Canadian) (Reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson)

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