ViroLogic: A Big Gun in the HIV Battle

ViroLogic is a small biotech player in the fight against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Its stock trades at 2.55. But ViroLogic partners include Merck, Pfizer, and GlaxoSmithKline. It has developed technologies to assess drug resistance to specific viruses. ViroLogic's novel HIV-testing technology, PhenoSense GT, is being used by Pfizer for its HIV drug-discovery program. The PhenoSense products "are designed to help drugmakers screen HIV clinical-drug candidates faster and more efficiently," says Matt Geller of CIBC World Markets, which handled ViroLogic's initial public offering two years ago.

There are 16 approved HIV drugs and 40 more in the pipeline. ViroLogic's patented technology can be applied to new HIV drug targets and is also being modified for use in vaccine research against HIV, says Chief Financial Officer Karen Wilson. She says ViroLogic is in talks to sign up vaccine makers as partners. Geller figures ViroLogic, which will post a loss this year on sales estimated at $38 million to $42 million, will earn 34 cents a share in 2003, on sales of $85 million. One hedge fund manager, who has been buying, has a target of 8, based on ViroLogic's exceptional sales growth and partnerships with big drugmakers.

By Gene G. Marcial

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