Sigma-Aldrich says restructuring expenses, merger-and-acquisition (M&A) costs, and currency fluctuations drove down profits during the fourth quarter of 2014—and added that the company is still on track to be acquired for $17 billion by Merck KGaA later this year as planned.

Net income rose 1.5% during the fourth quarter of 2014 compared with a year earlier, on sales that rose 3%, to $705 million. The 3% includes organic sales growth of 7%—the highest quarterly performance in almost four years, president and CEO Rakesh Sachdev said in a statement—and a 1% sales gain due to acquisitions and divestitures, as well as a 5% reduction due to currency rate changes.

The company’s largest sales gains were the “double-digit” organic sales increases reported by the Life Science Products and Life Science Services segments, which resulted in 14% organic sales growth for Sigma-Aldrich’s SAFC Commercial business unit. SAFC Commercial generated $197 million in sales, accounting for 28% of overall company sales.

“Biopharma and Pharma products contributed to growth in this segment, led by new zinc-finger nuclease licensing agreements and PharmaGrade product sales.  The Life Science Services segment had another solid quarter of growth, led by demand in service sales for gene therapy projects,” Sachdev said.

However, currency fluctuations wiped out the sales growth generated by the academic, pharma and dealers segments within Sigma-Aldrich’s largest business unit, the company said.

The research unit, which generated 48% of fourth-quarter sales, finished the fourth quarter with a 2% dip over Q4 2013, generating $341 million in sales.

“In the fourth quarter, we saw improved U.S. academic spending and had another double-digit sales growth performance in China as well as a return to double-digit growth in India,” Sachdev said, accounting for the research unit’s sales increase.

Sigma-Aldrich’s Applied unit enjoyed a 7% year-over-year sales gain to $167 million, driven by double-digit growth in the diagnostics and testing segment.

For all of 2014, Sigma-Aldrich enjoyed a 1.8% year-to-year increase in net income, to $500 million, on sales that climbed 3%, to $2.785 billion. Research finished the year with sales that stayed flat over 2013 at $1.4 billion (51% of the company’s total sales), while SAFC Commercial rose 4% to $701 million (25%), and Applied rose 8% to $680 million (24%).

Sigma-Aldrich released results nearly five months since the September 22, 2014, announcement that it will be acquired by Merck KGaA for $17 billion. The deal is intended to more than double the acquirer’s presence in life sciences tools and technologies by expanding upon and complementing the operations of the German giant's Merck Millipore tools subsidiary.

“We continue to expect the transaction to close mid-2015, subject to receipt of certain antitrust and government approvals and other customary closing conditions,” Sachdev stated.

He cited the pending acquisition in saying Sigma-Aldrich will no longer hold conference calls for quarterly and annual earnings.

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