Shares in Axis-Shield slumped earlier this week after the firm warned that revenues for the first 18 weeks of the year are under par and that, should the trend continue, full year profit will fail to meet expectations.

The Dundee, Scotland-based medical diagnostics group could only watch on as its stock lost a quarter of its value following the release of an interim statement in which it explained that sales of its single biggest earner, the flu test NycoCard CRP, have been negatively affected by a mild 2009/2010 flu season.

Magnifying this shortfall, the company said it has seen slower growth than expected in turnover of its HbA1c diabetes tests as well as lower third party product sales by its distribution companies, which it claims might be explained by “a reduction in discretionary healthcare expenditure” amid the current financially unstable global climate.

Speaking to newspaper The Scotsman, Axis-Shield’s chief executive Ian Gilham said that the company has “suffered a tough quarter and if that continues unbated, then we're going to have a tough year”. However, he stressed that measures are being put in place that should help to buck the current trend, such as the expansion of its sales and marketing muscle and plans to triple the size of its US team this year.

Furthermore, the company noted that its balance sheet “remains strong” and that there have been “no significant changes in the financial position of the company during the period”.