Charles River Labs ready to shed assets in earnings drive

With reports circulating that a pair of its big investors are prodding the managers of Charles River Laboratories to put the company up for sale, the CRO today outlined plans to shed itself of some "underperforming" assets as it cuts costs and boosts earnings.

The CRO specializes in animal research projects. Now the company wants to pursue "strategic alternatives" for its preclinical facility in China as well as its U.S. Phase I clinic. Its Phase I clinical business will now be termed as a discontinued operation.

"Over the last two years, Charles River has taken decisive action to address the accelerating changes in the biopharmaceutical industry," said CEO James Foster. "We have aligned our infrastructure to current demand, rigorously managed operating costs and increased our stock repurchases, all of which were implemented to drive shareholder value. The four initiatives that we outlined today will allow us to further intensify our disciplined focus on driving profitable growth and maximizing value for our shareholders.

Just a few days ago the Wall Street Journal reported that Relational Investors upped its stake in the company and then-assisted by the California teacher's pension fund- pushed management to put the company up for sale. The company has been working to find a more effective strategy after it was forced to abandon a merger effort with WuXi PharmaTech as demand for its drug research work softened.

- read the Charles River release
- here's the story from Reuters