Chiron Corp. has reported net income for 1993 of more than$18 million on gross revenues of more than $317 million -- thecompany's first profitable year since its 1991 acquisition ofCetus Corp. Its 1993 financial results, announced Wednesday,are in stark contrast to the company's 1992 net loss of $46.8million on revenues of $59.4 million.

The Emeryville, Calif., company (NASDAQ:CHIR) turned a profitin every quarter of 1993. In its fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31,Chiron reported net income of $5.5 million on revenues of$93.3 million. The company earned 16 cents per share for thequarter and 55 cents per share for the year.

Nonetheless, Chiron's profits were lower than some analystshad predicted. In mid-February, analyst Gregory Brown ofVector Securities International Inc. predicted 1993 earnings forthe company of 61 cents per share. Chiron's fourth-quartersales apparently did not meet his expectations; Brown hadpredicted earnings of 22 cents per share for that period.

Brandon Fradd of Montgomery Securities, however, said thatChiron's earnings had come in slightly over his projections. "It'sbeen a great year for Chiron," he told BioWorld. "They've beensaying all year that they'd come in at 30 to 60 cents per share,and that's what they did."

Chiron has been a volatile performer on Wall Street so far thisyear. Although the company's stock climbed 25 cents a shareon the announcement of its earnings, closing at $73.63 pershare on Wednesday, it dropped in value by about $20 pershare over the month of February after gaining almost $10 pershare in January.

Sales of Chiron's drug Betaseron (recombinant beta interferon),which is marketed in the U.S. by Berlex Laboratories Inc.,accounted for $10.5 million of the company's revenues.Betaseron was approved last July for the treatment of multiplesclerosis. Chiron noted that it amended its supply agreementwith Berlex in December so that Chiron now receives"substantially all" of its share of revenues upon shipment of theproduct. Chiron also received FDA approval to expand itsproduction facility in December, giving it the capacity toproduce enough Betaseron to treat 20,000 patients annuallyinstead of 12,000. With an additional production facility inPuerto Rico, the company plans to be able to produce enoughBetaseron to treat 25,000 to 40,000 patients a year by the endof 1994 and more than 100,000 in 1995.

Other sales increases were due to the activity of Chiron Vision,the company's ophthalmic business, which grew to $82.1million in sales in 1993 from $64.6 million in 1992. Sales atChiron Therapeutics rose to $38.4 million in 1993 from $28.2million in 1992, largely because of U.S. sales of the oncologyagent Proleukin. The company noted, however, that Proleukinsales were flat in Europe between 1992 and 1993, and U.S.sales dropped in the fourth quarter. Chiron Therapeutics'fourth-quarter revenues were $7.7 million, compared with $8.1million in the fourth quarter of 1992.

-- Karl A. Thiel Business Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.