ANALYST PREDICTS ABI TURNAROUND Applied Biosystems Inc. of Foster City, Calif., is about to embark on "a significant turnaround" in profits, said Jonathan W. Osgood, an analyst with Alex. Brown & Sons Inc.'s office in Boston. Osgood rates ABI stock (NASDAQ:ABIO) a "buy."

ABI's second-quarter 1991 profits were 3 cents a share on net sales of $42.2 million. Although the company's profit slipped from 16 cents a share a year ago, Osgood had forecasted only break-even results.

Osgood noted that orders rose faster than sales. This was especially true in Japan, which forms Applied Biosystems' second-largest market. Sales of reagents and chemicals grew 27 percent, but instrument sales fell 10 percent and trended toward flat. Second-quarter production and inventory reductions of $3.3 million hurt gross profit margins. Nonetheless, savings from this and plant consolidations should fatten margins for the year.

Based on second-quarter results, sales growth and improving gross margins, Osgood now forecasts a 21-cent-a-share loss for the year ending June 30. That is better than his prior forecast of a 25-cent loss. Osgood's estimates include a non-recurring charge of 32 cents per share in the first quarter. He is sticking to a 45-cent profit forecast for fiscal 1992.

ABI, which has traded in a 52-range of $6.50 to $15.75, closed Wednesday at $15 a share, up 13 cents. -- Ray Potter

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