Genzyme Corp. first quarter earnings came in 5 cents ahead ofconsensus estimates and significantly better than those posted a yearago.

The Cambridge, Mass., company's numbers, released late Thursday,showed an increase of 23 percent for the first quarter, from 43 centslast year to 53 cents. Analysts' consensus projection was 48 cents pershare. Revenues for the quarter were $112 million compared to $87million last year, with net income besting last year's total, $19million to $12 million.

Vector Securities International Inc., of Deerfield, Ill., had estimatedearnings of 53 cents. Vector said the increase was made moreimpressive by the fact that Genzyme had 7.7 million more sharesoutstanding than in the comparable period in 1995, and had $8million more in selling, general and administrative expenses.

Sales of Ceredase and Cerezyme, Genzyme's lead products for thetreatment of Gaucher's disease increased 20 percent, to $59 million.International sales increased 31 percent. The pharmaceutical businessunit's sales increased 226 percent, to $17.9 million, and diagnosticsales increased 25 percent, to $16 million.

Edmund Debler, an analyst at Mehta & Isaly, in New York, said thenumbers were stronger than anticipated. He added, however, "thatthere's a lot of math that can be done here. We maintain with thecurrent influx of new shares it's going to be tough for the company."

Debler said Genzyme's sales of the melatonin product, which were$12 million, may not be sustained in coming quarters, partly becausethe insomnia product is a fad and partly because it will face increasedcompetition.

Vector Securities, however, expects Genzyme to remain the marketleader for melatonin, and it doubled its estimate of sales of theproduct, MelaPure, to $40 million for the year.

Vector Securities, which has had a high estimate of $257 million forannual Ceredase/Cerezyme sales, now expects the Street to raise itsestimates to that level.

Debler said sales of the enzymes for Gaucher's disease were higherthan Mehta & Isaly anticipated, but he thinks that $250 million insales is about as high as they will go. n

-- Jim Shrine

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