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Jan 31 (Reuters) - Millipore Corp MIL.N, a maker of purification systems used in drug manufacture, posted a fourth-quarter profit that was in line with Wall Street's view, but sales at its Bioprocess business were hit by lower customer spending, and shares fell 7 percent in after-hours trade.
The slowdown in customer spending at its Bioprocess business is expected to continue at least through the first half of 2008, Millipore said. The Bioprocess division offers products and services to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, including validation and quality assurance of therapeutics.
For the fourth quarter, the company earned $54.1 million, or 98 cents a share, excluding items, compared with $46.9 million, or 86 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 6 percent to $405.2 million.
Analysts on average were expecting earnings of 98 cents a share, before items, on revenue of $410.8 million, according to Reuters Estimates.
"A few of our largest North American biotech customers are lowering their inventories and reducing their purchases, which is negatively affecting our U.S. sales," Chief Executive Officer Martin Madaus said in a statement.
Sales from the Bioprocess division grew only 1 percent to $226.8 million during the fourth quarter. The Bioscience division, which offers products and services for drug discovery and other types of life science research, grew 12 percent to $178.4 million.
In after-hours trading, Millipore's shares fell to $65, before recovering to trade at $68.94. They had closed up more than 1 percent at $70.15 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Aniruddha Basu in Bangalore; Editing by Pratish Narayanan)