Company that markets flu test hurt by mild sick season

Tuesday, February 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY - A company that markets a flu test is under the weather financially because of a lack of sneezes and sniffles this year.

ZymeTx Inc. is reporting a net loss of $1.4 million, or 20 cents per share, for the second quarter of fiscal 2001, claiming a light flu season has hurt sales of its only product, a flu test called ZstatFlu.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ZymeTx Inc. officials warned they may need to seek additional working capital or look at other options like selling the company.

Sales of ZstatFlu came in at $400,000 for the second quarter, compared to sales of $794,000 for the same period last year.

``A mild flu season is not good news for shareholders of ZymeTx,'' Tulsa financial analyst Fred Russell said. ``Shareholders would rather be sneezing than suffering tension as revenues and earnings decline.''

Dr. Robert Hudson, managing director of ZymeTx's Internet flu surveillance network, said sales of flu treatments also are down by about 60 percent.

``Just like farmers can't grow cotton if they don't get rain, we can't sell flu tests if there is no flu,'' Hudson said.

ZymeTx stock closed slightly up on Monday at $1.88, after reaching a high of $6.38 on March 13.

Hudson said company officials have hope in the near future for the company _ as long as people across the country start to become miserable with the flu.

He said doctors are reporting more flu throughout the nation with the hardest hit areas in the Southeast and mid-South. Pockets of mild to heavy flu also are in the Northeast and Midwest.

``This week and next week the flu will probably peak across the country,'' he said.