By Arra B. Francia, Reporter
PHILAB Holdings Corp. targets to return to profitability in 2019, banking on the wider distribution of its dengue testing kits coupled by higher revenues from its medical laboratory business.
In a statement issued Thursday, the listed health care and biotechnology firm said its dengue testing kits by LABit will help its unit Philab Industries, Inc. quadruple its revenues by next year.
The dengue testing kits are designed to help people with fever determine if they are infected with the dengue virus or not. Working much like a pregnancy test, a patient will have to draw about three drops of blood and pour it onto the kit, which will then provide the results 12 minutes after.
The company said that each kit retails at about P340, much lower than the P1,300-P2,500 price that patients would have to pay for the same service currently available in hospitals.
“The Philippines alone is a huge market for this product. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, there’s a huge market for this product,” Philab Holdings Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hector Thomas A. Navasero told reporters during a round table interview in Makati on Wednesday night.
To expand its distribution, the company has recently signed a five-year licensing agreement with Januarius Holdings, Inc. (JHI) to manufacture and distribute the dengue testing kits. JHI is investing P30 million into LABit, and has also extended a P20-million credit facility for Philab Holdings.
“That’s why we needed the support and assistance of Januarius to get this out there faster, and maybe one day the volumes go up, we can produce these test kits in larger volumes locally,” Mr. Navasero added.
JHI is headed by businessman Januario Jesus Gregorio B. Atencio III, the former president and chief executive officer of listed property firm 8990 Holdings, Inc. Mr. Atencio told reporters that he is a strategic investor in Philab.
Aside from JHI, the company has recently secured a P71.5-million investment from Highgarden Investments Ltd.
Philab Holdings also looks to be back on the trading board of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) by next year, after it resolves pending issues surrounding its P2.4-billion contract with the Department of Education (DepEd).
The company still has P1.6 billion worth of receivables from DepEd, which prevented Philab from securing the PSE’s approval for its 2017 annual financial statement. This has prompted a trading suspension on the company’s shares since May.
“We’ve complied with all the requirements. I pray, not promising, that we can be back on trading early next year,” Mr. Navasero said.
Philab Holdings booked a net loss attributable to the parent of P107.85 million in the first nine months of 2018, compared to an attributable loss of P860,006 in the same period a year ago. The company managed to book gross revenues of P155.15 million during the nine-month period.