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Agilent Profit Tops Estimate; Outlook Weak

Scientific instruments maker Agilent Technologies Inc. (A: Quote) said Monday after the markets closed that its fourth quarter profit rose 47% from last year, helped by higher revenue and a hefty tax benefit.

The company's quarterly earnings per share, excluding items, also came in above analysts' expectations.

However, the company forecast first quarter and fiscal 2013 earnings below analysts' current consensus estimates.

Agilent CEO Bill Sullivan said, "Agilent's performance in the fiscal fourth quarter met our revenue guidance and exceeded EPS guidance. Despite a very challenging economic environment, the strength of our operating model was evident, with operating margins for the quarter and the year at an all-time high."

Agilent shares are currently losing 2.29% in after hours trading after closing the day's regular trading session at $37.51, up $1.70 or 4.75%. the shares trade in a 53.week range of $32.51 to $46.28.

Fourth quarter revenue from the company's Electronic Measurement segment fell 5% from last year to $816 million, hurt by weakness across all key markets with the exception of computer and semiconductor markets.

Life Sciences revenues for the quarter was essentially flat with last year at $401 million, as growth in the pharma and environmental markets was offset by a decline in academia and government markets.

Fourth quarter revenue from the company's Chemical Analysis segment decreased 3% from a year earlier to $394 million, dragged by environmental and chemical.

Diagnostics and Genomics segment, which includes the Dako acquisition, had fourth quarter revenue of $156 million, up 125% year-over-year.

Total orders in the fourth quarter were $1.751 billion, compared to $1.752 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, the company said.

For the fourth quarter ended October 31, 2012, the Santa Clara, California-based company reported net income of $425 million or $1.20 per share, compared to $289 million or $0.82 per share for the year-ago quarter.

During the latest quarter, Agilent had intangible amortization of $52 million; acquisition, integration and transformation costs of $40 million; and a donation to the Agilent Technologies Foundation of $10 million. The company also recognized a tax benefit of $227 million.

Excluding items, adjusted net income for the latest quarter was $303 million or $0.86 per share, compared to $296 million or $0.84 per share in the prior year quarter.

On average, 16 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.80 per share for the fourth quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Revenues for the fourth quarter rose 2% to $1.77 billion from $1.73 billion in the same quarter last year. Fifteen analysts had a consensus revenue estimate of $1.76 billion for the fourth quarter.

Looking forward to the first quarter, the company forecast revenues of $1.68 billion to $1.70 billion and adjusted earnings of $0.65 to $0.67 per share. Analysts currently expect the company to earn $0.76 per share on revenue of $1.73 billion for the first quarter.

For the full fiscal year 2013, Agilent forecast revenue of $7.0 billion to $7.20 billion and adjusted earnings of $2.80 to $3.10 per share. Analysts currently expect the company to earn $3.34 per share on revenue of $7.17 billion for the fiscal year 2013.

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by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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