Companies in the Labtech business are active in the market areas diagnostics, biomedical research and laboratory equipment.
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Labtech’s net sales increased by 84 percent in the first quarter to SEK 1,125m (611), which is entirely organic growth, however exchange rate changes had a negative effect of 6 percent. Net sales related to COVID-19 accounted for SEK 540m and organic growth, excluding COVID-19 amounted to 8 percent. EBITA increased by 263 percent to SEK 262m (72), corresponding to an EBITA-margin of 23.2 percent (11.8).
The third pandemic wave with increased spread of infection drove up sales and earnings for the Labtech business area.
All countries are conducting COVID-19 testing and our diagnostics companies continued to sell large volumes of COVID-19 tests (“PCR tests”) for the previously installed base of instruments during the quarter. In the quarter, we also sold point-of-care instruments and COVID-19 tests in several countries to private actors, who either issue travel certificates for international travel, or test staff for specific jobs.
A few hospital customers have built up some inventory of COVID-19 tests for the coming quarter, but we nevertheless expect the high demand for tests to continue until the pandemic has been contained by ongoing vaccinations. Sales of blood gas analysis samples have also been high in the quarter as the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients in hospital intensive care units increased once again. Volumes for other diagnostic tests have been relatively stable.
Sales and activity have been high in our niche research companies, mainly in the Nordic region and in Italy. Researchers are focusing on virus research and on products for gene sequencing of new COVID-19 mutations. Activity has remained at normal levels for our pharmaceutical customers and sales are stable. In the quarter, sales of our own advanced instruments were strong, particularly in Europe and Asia outside China.