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This article was originally published in The Tan Sheet

Executive Summary

NUTRAMAX MOVING INTO PRIVATE LABEL OTCs WITH OPTOPICS LABS ACQUISITION for $ 3.2 mil in cash and and approximately $ 300,000 in stock under an agreement announced March 3. Optopics' product line includes private label competitors to Visine eye drops, Sensitive Eyes saline solution and Dacriose eye wash, among others. The deal is expected to close by early June. Based in Fairton, N.J., privately held Optopics generated sales of nearly $ 5 mil. in 1992 from a line of 19 products in the OTC contact lens solution, artificial tears, and eye drop categories. The ophthalmic company also manufactures eight generic prescription products. NutraMax, based in Gloucester, Mass., is the private-label leader in disposable feminine hygiene products, disposable enemas, baby bottle liners and pediatric oral maintenance solution. The acquisition provides NutraMax with its first entry into the OTC pharmaceutical market. "The addition of Optopics strengthens our position as an important private label supplier to the retail trade," NutraMax President and CEO Donald Lepone commented. He predicted that NutraMax' "sales and marketing expertise . . . can significantly increase" sales of the Optopics line. "With higher-priced, brand- name manufacturers dominating the ophthalmics market," he added, "we are extremely excited by the potential of these new product lines for NutraMax." NutraMax was founded in 1987 by Lepone, a former VP-marketing at Thompson Medical, where he worked on such product lines as Dexatrim, Slim-Fast, Cortizone-5 and Sportscreme. In 1990, NutraMax acquired Aid-Pack from Mediq, which gave the private label firm manufacturing capability for douches and enemas. NutraMax went public in 1991, raising nearly $ 13 mil. At the end of fiscal 1992, the company had nearly $ 8 mil. in cash and short- term investments and no debt. As a result of the Aid-Pack deal, Mediq holds a 49% stake in NutraMax and Mediq Chairman and CEO Bernard Korman also serves as the chairman of NutraMax. NutraMax reported a 25% increase in sales to $ 25.2 mil. in fiscal 1992 (ended Sept. 30) and net income of $ 3.5 mil., up 62% from fiscal 1991. For the quarter (ended Dec. 31), NutraMax sales increased 23% to $ 6.6 mil. and net earnings grew 24% to $ 781,000. NutraMax indicated that it has not yet determined whether Optopics will be run as a separate subsidiary or merged into NutraMax' current operations. At least some of the current Optopics management team will remain after the acquisition to help smooth the transition: while Optopics founder and Chairman Frank Nicholas and his son VP-Legal Jeff Nicholas are leaving the company, two other sons -- co-Presidents Scott and Peter Nicholas -- will be retained by NutraMax for at least one year.

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