Investors not charmed by Cobra's results

By Nick Taylor

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cobra Contract

Cobra Biomanufacturing has had a disappointing first six months of
2008, reporting an operating loss of $4.8m.

The British contract manufacturer has seen operating profits slump by $5m in comparison with the first half of 2007. This followed on from a poor end to 2007. Cobra attributed its decline to difficulties in the US market as a number of contracts were "cancelled, deferred or delayed​". Despite these difficulties the company is optimistic, with the report stating: "The market for the group's services remains very challenging, which is in part due to the worldwide credit crisis, but our efforts are focused on well funded customers with promising development pipelines, always bearing in mind the nature of the worldwide biotechnology market​. "The outsourcing trend adopted by the life science industry is continuing, as is the development of biotherapeutic drugs​." Underneath the optimism some of the latest figures suggest more troubling times await the contract manufacturer. Revenues fell be 50 per cent to $5.4m, largely due to the collapse of income from the US, which fell from $8.2m to $2.8m. The US is Cobra's primary market, contributing 77 per cent of Cobra's revenues in the first half of 2007. Underpinning the company's worsening fortunes in the US is a decline in its core business of protein and virus manufacturing, which fell by 66 and 50 per cent respectively. Despite these difficulties Cobra has retained a healthy order book, which rose to a record $16.6m. This has almost doubled in value since the first half of 2007 but the long term nature of current deals means the company is only expecting to deliver $7.2m over the second half of 2008. A sizeable chunk of the order book is accounted for by a virus contract worth $9.5m over the next two years. Although this will not bring an instant payout Cobra is hoping deals of this nature will help the company achieve greater stability, resulting in less year on year fluctuation in profits. Cobra also extols the virus contract as a symbol of its strengthening position in a niche market. Such contracts and expertise will be required if Cobra is to lift itself out of its current slump, which has seen share price plummet from 43.67 to 5.26, with the latest financial results causing a significant hemorrhaging of stock value.

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