Dutch molecular diagnostics group Qiagen has posted a pleasing set of results for the fourth quarter of 2005, driven by strong sales that came in above expectations.

The group generated net sales of $104.3 million for the period, rising 8.4% from the $95.5 million recorded for the year-earlier quarter. This helped drive operating income up 17% to $26.0 million and net income up 6% to $16.9 million. Earnings per share stayed level at $0.11, falling in line with company forecasts.

For the year ended December 31, 2005, net sales rose 5% to $398.4 million and, excluding revenues related to the synthetic DNA business unit which the company sold in the second quarter of 2004, consolidated net sales would have climbed 11% to $398.4 million. Operating income for the year jumped 13% to $94.8 million, while net income leapt 28% to $62.2 million. Diluted EPS were up 24% to $0.41.

Commenting on the company’s performance during the year, Chief Executive Officer, Peer Schatz, stated: "2005 was an exciting and important year for Qiagen and provides a great basis for our success in 2006. Our company executed well on our strategy and we further increased our technology and market leadership. We are demonstrating significant success in innovating, partnering and acquiring and are in a strong position to address attractive opportunities in research, clinical research, molecular diagnostics and applied markets.”

And the firm’s outlook for this year certainly remains positive, with forecasts of record revenue growth in the 13%-16% range and adjusted diluted EPS of $0.52-$0.55.