DUBLIN, Ireland - Trinity Biotech has reported US$0.10 earnings per share for the fiscal year ending Dec. 31, 1998, which represents a 67 percent increase on the equivalent figure for the previous year. The Dublin-based diagnostics company reported net income of US$2.6 million on US$23.2 million in revenues, compared with US$1.2 million and US$16.8 million, respectively, in fiscal 1997.

The company's share price rose 15 percent in heavy trading following the announcement of the results last Thursday, to close at just over US$1.40. Some 466,000 shares changed hands, compared with the company's normal volume of 80,000 to 100,000 shares.

Trinity's cash reserves have dwindled considerably. At the end of its fiscal year, it had just US$1.3 million in cash and equivalents, having spent more than US$5 million during its last two trading quarters. That figure has increased since then, said chief financial officer Jonathan O'Connell, but the company has US$10 million in deferred payments to make over the next two years, following its acquisition of four product lines last year. "Most of our future cash flows [over the next two years] would be promised to deferred payments," he said.

Because it is profitable, the company does have access to credit facilities if it wishes to make acquisitions in the short term, O'Connell said. However, these would need to be immediately earnings-enhancing, he added.

Trinity's product line comprises 124 tests, 87 of which have gained FDA approval. The company currently is developing a series of cancer diagnostics based on serum tumor markers it licensed in 1997 from Centocor Inc., of Malvern, Pa. O'Connell said he expects these to be launched before the year's end. - Cormac Sheridan