IDEXX profits up; revenue impacted slightly by EU mad cow rule change

IDEXX Laboratories Inc. saw profits increase in the fourth quarter, hitting $37.9 million, up about $1.6 million from the same period the year before.

For the entire year, the Westbrook-based biotechnology company saw profits of $161.7 million, up from $141.3 million the year before.

IDEXX makes a variety of diagnostic tools for the global veterinary market. The company currently employs 4,800 people, including about 1,700 in Maine – with a big expansion underway at its Westbrook headquarters that will support up to 700 new employees.

“I am pleased with our fourth quarter results, which marked the conclusion of a strong year,” said IDEXX Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ayers in the company’s Friday earnings release. “Our 7 percent organic growth in the fourth quarter, in an economic environment that is still not contributing significantly to our performance, demonstrates our continued success in bringing innovative products and services to our veterinary and other customers, as well as strong commercial execution in markets around the world.”

According to the release, revenues increased in IDEXX’s companion animal group, which broadly serves the pet market, and in its water testing group, as well. Revenues declined 3 percent in IDEXX’s livestock and poultry diagnostics unit, IDEXX said, in part due to changes in European Union rules for testing of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Those changes led to lower sales of the test equipment IDEXX produces that’s used to check for the disease.

For the full year of 2012, IDEXX is projecting revenues of $1.30 to $1.31 billion, representing revenue growth of 7 percent to 8 percent over 2011.

IDEXX last fall began construction of new administrative offices, a two-phase investment estimated at more than $60 million, including equipment. The 200,000-square-foot development would be the first certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building in Westbrook, IDEXX said. IDEXX said the first phase of the project will be 107,000 square feet of a three-story building, to be completed in 2013.

Alexia Pinheiro, a student from Brazil, drops milk into a new IDEXX SNAP test that checks for the presence of antibiotics in this Sept. 1, 2011, file photo. (BDN/Matt Wickenheiser)

Plans for such a corporate headquarters development were initially floated about five years ago, but were postponed as IDEXX neighbor Pike Industries pursued expansion of its quarry operations. IDEXX, Pike and the city have been operating for about a year under a consent decree that spells out how often the construction firm can blast at its quarry.

IDEXX It trades on the NASDAQ under the symbol IDXX, and closed at $87.31 Thursday.