Waters: Strength in biopharma as it takes small molecule hit

Chromatography and measurement company Waters Corporation experienced a volatile Q1 but its biopharma business remains high, backed by significant investments in the space.

For the first quarter 2019, Waters Corporation reported sales of $514 million (€458 million), a drop of 3% on the same period last year.

Waters CEO Chris O’Connell attributed the unexpected fall in sales to “greater-than-expected macro impacts in China and Europe, as well as a slow release of budgets by key pharmaceutical and industrial customers,” but said during a conference call that confidence in the pharma business remains positive for the year.

“The hit in the quarter on pharma was really around the small molecule business,” he said. “The thing that we realize in this business is that small molecule business, particularly generics business, that’s where market share is the stickiest and it’s where also we have sort of a good read on the ongoing activity in that installed base based on our chemistry business, which remains solid.”

However, he said the biopharma business continues to be robust, propping up the quarter.

“The biopharma business was strong in the quarter and that continued the pattern that we’ve been seeing. We’ve been executing well in biopharma and we continue to benefit from all the innovation in that space. And, obviously, we’ve made incremental investments in that space ourselves.”

BioAccord Tech

One such example is the BioAccord System, a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) launched in January by the firm. According to the company, the technology offering aims to move “routine monitoring out of centralized MS labs and into the hands of more scientists by enabling more effective analysis of biotherapeutic protein attributes across development and within quality control organizations.”

BioAccord tech. Image c/o Waters Corporation

The platform will “change the way customers characterize and monitor large molecule therapeutics,” O’Connell said on the call.

“Since our launch in January, we’ve seen a high level of interest from both existing and new customers. Systems have been shipped and we are building a robust demo and quoting pipeline.”

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