An investment analyst on Friday lowered her recommendationfor Ecogen Inc., saying the company may have a longer row tohoe in harvesting profits from its biopesticides .
Merrill Lynch analyst Maureen McGann downgraded her long-term rating for Ecogen to "above average" from "buy" and cuther earnings forecasts for this year and next.
Ecogen (NASDAQ:EECN) stock on Friday dropped 50 cents ashare to $7.13, close to its 52-week low of $7. The companyreported last Thursday a second-quarter loss of $1.4 million, or11 cents a share on revenues of $2.3 million. Product sales --including Epogen's three Bt-based commercial bioinsecticides:Cutlass for vegetables, Foil for potatoes and Condor forvegetables -- reached $953,000 during the quarter, up fromabout $400,000 for the same period last year, according to thecompany.
"We now expect sales to ramp up more slowly," McGann wrote.Slower sales growth, combined with rising operating expensesresulting from technology acquisitions, led McGann to reviseher projected loss for the year ending Dec. 31 to 48 cents ashare; and for 1993 to 12 cents.
McGann approves of Ecogen's acquisition policy, which hasgiven its potential products in pherome-based pest control,nematode-based pest control for below-ground pests; andbiopesticides to combat mildew, post-harvest rots and parasiticnematodes.
"Without the acquisitions, EECN was primarily a one-technologycompany, betting the farm on Bt-based bioinsecticides," shesaid.
Ecogen's sales in the recent quarter were helped by theintroduction of its Condor insecticide for cotton during thequarter. The company also signed up Ortho, Chevron'sconsumer products division to distribute Condor products inthe residential market. -- Ray Potter
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