Meridian Bioscience Inc. shares dropped 8.8% in pre-market trade Wednesday after the company reported a first-quarter earnings and revenue miss, along with guidance cuts for the 2017 fiscal year and a reduction to its cash dividend. Chief Executive Officer John Kraeutler attributed the negative first-quarter earnings results to revenue declines in the company's Americas diagnostic business -- the company's largest profit driver -- across all major product categories, declines that occurred "in part due to customer buying patterns and general weakness overall." The company expects stabilization measures implemented in late 2016 to return the unit to growth later this fiscal year, though the recovery "is proceeding more slowly than planned," he said. Earnings for the latest quarter fell to $6.3 million, or 15 cents per share, from $8.9 million, or 21 cents per share in the same period a year ago. First-quarter revenue fell to $46.8 million, compared with $47.2 million in the year-earlier period, and below the FactSet consensus of $51.1 million. For 2017, the company has reduced its net revenue guidance to $193 million to $199 million and per share diluted earnings to between 64 cents per share and 69 cents per share, down from prior guidance of $205 million to $210 million and 81 cents per share to 85 cents per share, respectively. The company said it has reduced its fiscal 2017 annual indicated dividend rate from 80 cents per share to 50 cents per share, and its regular quarterly cash dividend will be about 13 cents per share for the first quarter "based on current business trends." Meridian shares were valued at $16.45 as of Tuesday's close. Shares have declined 3.0% over the last three months, compared with a 6.4% rise in the S&P 500 .
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