Delays force Acambis to reduce profit predictions

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The Independent Online

Acambis, the Cambridge company which is supplying smallpox vaccine to the US government, has cut its forecast for profits this year after suffering a string of delays.

Acambis, the Cambridge company which is supplying smallpox vaccine to the US government, has cut its forecast for profits this year after suffering a string of delays.

The company has been plagued by setbacks, including a brake on trials of its first smallpox vaccine because of safety fears and a longer-than-expected tender process for a new contract with the US health authorities.

Acambis is working on a second strain for use by people with weak immune systems, but a research contract - which was eventually shared with its European rival, Bavarian Nordic - came through at the end of September, several months later than hoped.

"It is a timing issue," Gordon Cameron, the chief executive, said yesterday. "We have a lot of work to do and some of it may now fall into the new year."

Revenues for the year will be between £80m and £90m instead of £85m to £90m, Acambis said, leading analysts to cut profit forecasts by about 15 per cent.

Acambis shares fell 3 per cent to 260p, their worst level in more than 18 months. The company has returned to losses, since there is a two-year gap before the launch of its next vaccines, mainly for tropical diseases. Robin Gilbert, at Numis, said: "Third-quarter figures announced this morning were rather disappointing, with the group returning to losses of £4.5m for the quarter."

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