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Agilent Shares Surge 14.24 Percent on News of Chip Business Divestiture

NEW YORK, Aug. 15 (GenomeWeb News) - Shares of Agilent Technologies were up 14.24 percent, or $3.76, at $30.17 in unusually heavy volume after the company reported that it is selling its semiconductor business for $2.66 billion.


As GenomeWeb News reported this morning, Agilent said it plans to sell the semiconductor business to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and Silver Lake Partners in a deal expected to close by the end of October. The company said that it would be cutting about 1,300 jobs in connection with the divestiture, which would allow it to focus on its measurement business.


Agilent today also reported a 10-percent decrease in total fiscal third-quarter revenue, which jumped to $1.69 billion from $1.89 billion in the prior-year period. Revenues for the three month period ended July 31 fell below the company's expectations of $1.7 billion to $1.8 billion for the quarter.


"Revenues were slightly below our expectations because of weak wireless test and life sciences markets," said Bill Sullivan, Agilent CEO, in a statement.


The LSCA unit posted receipts of $341 million for the quarter, a slight increase over $335 million in the year-ago period. Orders for the unit increased 8 percent, to $348 million from $321 million in the prior year.


Operating profit for the LSCA unit fell to $42 million, compared to $45 million in the equivalent period of 2004. Excluding the impact of recent acquisitions, profits for the LSCA group were flat year over year, the company said.


Agilent noted that it witnessed "particular strength" in the life science group from generic drug manufacturers, but "some weakness in near-term pharmaceutical demand."


Agilent posted net earnings of $104 million, or $.21 per share, compared to $100 million, or $.20 per share in last year's third fiscal quarter.


Quarterly R&D expenses increased 5 percent to $244 million from $235 million in the year-ago period.


Agilent had cash and cash equivalents of $2.8 billion as of July 31.

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