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Agilent Q1 Revenues Flat; Lowers Guidance for 2014

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies reported after the close of the market on Thursday that revenues for the first quarter of its Fiscal Year 2014 were flat year over year while Life Sciences and Diagnostics revenues ticked up 5 percent.

For the three months ended Jan. 31, total revenues of $1.68 billion narrowly missed the consensus Wall Street estimate of $1.69 billion. Orders of $1.68 billion were down 2 percent from $1.71 billion a year ago.

"Our life sciences, diagnostics and applied market businesses got off to a solid start in the quarter," Agilent President and CEO Bill Sullivan said in a statement. "Electronic measurement, however, faced challenges in the aerospace/defense market."

Life Sciences and Diagnostics revenues improved to $591 million from $564 million, while orders in the segment inched up a fraction of 1 percent to $564 million from $562 million.

On Agilent's conference call following the release of its financial results, Sullivan said that the firm's LDA Group — comprising the company's life sciences, diagnostics and applied markets businesses — showed "solid revenue growth" across instruments, services, and consumables.

LDA Q1 revenues of $1.00 billion were up 5 percent year over year "reflecting strength across most end markets and a healthy Q4 [2013] backlog," Sullivan said.

The pharma business in LDA rose 8 percent year over year as strength in Europe and Japan offset weakness in the US. The food business grew 14 percent, while forensics grew 26 percent, and energy was up 3 percent, he said.

The academic and government end market was down 10 percent year over year, however, as "research spending remains constrained, impacted by slow budget releases, particularly in the US and China," Sullivan said.

The diagnostics and clinical business increased 10 percent. Although pathology revenues saw a slow start to the quarter, the clinical business was "robust, driven by CGH arrays and target enrichment," he noted.

For Q2, LDA revenues are anticipated to be between $995 million and $1.02 billion, and full-year 2014 LDA revenues are projected to be in the range of $4.03 billion to $4.13 billion, he added.

Among Agilent's other segments, Chemical Analysis revenues grew 6 percent to $417 million from $394 million in the year-ago period, while Electronic Measurement revenues slid 7 percent to $671 million from $722 million.

Agilent is in the process of splitting into two publicly traded firms, one focused on life sciences and chemical analysis, which would retain the Agilent name, and the other focused on the Electronic Measurement business. Called Keysight Technologies, it would operate as a fully owned Agilent subsidiary. Agilent officials said the separation remains on track to be completed in November.

For the first quarter, Agilent's net income rose to $195 million, or $.58 per share, compared to $179 million, or $.51 per share, a year ago. Adjusted EPS was $.67, just beating the average analyst estimate of $.66.

The company trimmed its R&D spending 1 percent to $177 million from $179 million, and upped its SG&A spending in the quarter a fraction of 1 percent to $488 million from $484 million.

Agilent finished the quarter with $2.74 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

For the second quarter, CFO Didier Hirsch said on the call that revenues are expected in the range of $1.72 billion to $1.74 billion, leading to EPS between $.71 and $.73.

Expected revenues for the full fiscal year were lowered to a new range of $6.90 billion to $7.10 billion from a previous range of $6.95 billion to $7.15 billion stated by the company during its FY 2013 fourth quarter conference call.

Its EPS guidance also was reduced to a new range of $2.96 to $3.16. Agilent had previously given a range of $3.03 to $3.33.

Hirsch said that in Q1 Agilent bought back $100 million of its common stock, completing the $1 billion stock repurchase program authorized by the company's board in May 2013.

In Friday morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Agilent were down around 7 percent at $55.65.