Diagnostic Products Corp.'s Contrarian Bet
DPC has successfully transformed itself from a reagent to a systems company and carved out a niche in immunoassay systems, but has it gone as far as it can on its own in a consolidating industry that favors breadth of product lines across lab segments?
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Sysmex's break in the US with distribution partner Roche frees it to reap the rewards of building its own brand. It's betting that a best-of-breed strategy can help it double revenues by 2006 and increase margins. It's got a stellar reputation but it's in a tough market that doesn't leave much room for error.
Sysmex Corp. of America and Roche Diagnostics are ending their four-year-old hematology alliance a year early. Both companies say the alliance has been successful. But Roche wants to focus on its franchises in fast-growing segments of the laboratory, and Sysmex, with a series of hematology product introductions underway, wants to raise its profile in the US. The move also signals an about-face from the initial premise for doing the deal, one which was widely pervasive throughout the medical device and diagnostics sectors in the 1990s: that customers want one-stop shopping and the discounts that come from bundling one manufacturer's broad product lines. Sysmex instead is turning to a best-of-breed strategy, which has served it well in major European markets, and which, it believes, will ultimately be more lucrative.
The popularity of DPC's random-access immunoassay system, the Immulite 2000, has helped the company become a significant player in the highly competitive automated immunoassay market. But DPC's benefited from some good luck--namely the misfortunes of top player Abbott Diagnostics and the slow efforts by other competitors to step into the gap left by Abbott. DPC's dilemma is whether it can maintain its narrow focus as Abbott re-emerges and other competitors get stronger.