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Agilent Posts Bruising Q3 Loss; Announces Job Cuts

NEW YORK, Aug. 20 – Plagued by deteriorating customer demand and excess capacity, Agilent Technologies on Monday said it would cut 4,000 jobs, or 9 percent of its work force, and posted a third-quarter operating loss.

Total orders for the quarter ended July 31 plunged 54 percent to $1.3 billion compared with a year ago, the company said. Net revenue in the quarter also fell, to $1.81 billion from $2.35 billion in the year-ago period, according to Agilent.

The company also reported a diluted loss per share from continuing operations of $0.47, up from the $0.31 year over year. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call had forecast a loss per share of 26 cents to 48 cents per share, with a consensus of 35 cents, on sales of $1.8 billion.

It was not clear what part Agilent’s life sciences division played in the quarter. Representatives for the company were not immediately available for comment.

Agilent, based in Palo Alto, Calif., said that the job cuts would be completed by the middle of next year to help restore profitability as soon as possible. The layoffs come after the company experimented with a variety of cost-cutting measures—including a plan to instigate a temporary 10 percent across-the-board pay cut.

“The measures to date have had have had a positive impact, but the business environment in our key industries continued to deteriorate this quarter,” Ned Barnholt, CEO of Agilent, said in a statement.

He added that the outlook calls for “a slow and gradual recovery.”

On Aug. 10, Agilent and Ambion agreed to co-market several of their products, including the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer, Agilent RNA LabChip kits, and Ambion's RNA-related reagents.  

The companies said that by combining forces, they would be able to offer customers a range of products for improved RNA analysis. 

Together Agilent and Ambion, of Austin, Texas, will co-market the products and conduct market research. 

Agilent’s RNA LabChip kits are developed and manufactured by Caliper Technology, Agilent's partner for its lab-on-a-chip business. 

Shares in Agilent fell $1.05, or nearly 4 percent, to close at $26.45 on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.

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