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Agilent's Sagging Q4 Bioanalytical Sales Include 7 Percent Dip in Life Science Revenues

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies today reported a 9 percent drop in fourth-quarter revenues for its Bioanalytical segment, including a 7 percent dip in life science receipts.

The slowing sales in Agilent's Bioanalytical segment contributed to an overall 21 percent drop in company-wide Q4 revenues and an 89 percent decline in net income.

For the fourth quarter ended Oct. 31, 2009, Agilent's Bioanalytical group reported revenues of $544 million compared to $594 million for Q4 2008.

Within the Bioanalytical group, Q4 life sciences receipts totaled $256 million, down 7 percent from the year-ago period, with spending by pharma and biotech customers down 8 percent; and sales to academic and government accounts off 4 percent year over year.

Agilent said in a statement that there were "some signs of thawing in the worldwide pharma market" and that interest for its new 1290 Infinity LC, introduced in July, "has exceeded expectations."

Also within the Bioanalytical group, chemical analysis revenues dropped 10 percent to $288 million in Q4. Overall, weakness in the Bioanalytical segment was most pronounced in the US and Europe, which were off 12 percent and 11 percent, respectively, from one year ago; while sales in Asia were generally flat, Agilent said.

Fourth-quarter income from operation for the Bioanalytical group was $109 million, $27 million below last year's results.

In addition, the company said that its planned $1.5 billion acquisition of Varian is now anticipated to close inn early 2010. The company said in July that it had expected the acquisition to close by the end of this calendar year. Agilent did not provide a reason for the delay.

Meantime, revenues for the Electronic Measurements group dropped 18 percent to $641 million; while revenues for the Semiconductor and Board Test segment fell 25 percent to $43 million year over year.

Overall, Agilent's Q4 revenues fell 21 percent to $1.17 billion from $1.48 billion year over year; while its net income plummeted 89 percent to $25 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, from $231 million, or $0.64 per diluted share year over year.

"While it seems clear that we are past the worst of the global downturn, the pace of recovery is expected to be slow and to vary considerably by market and geography," Bill Sullivan, Agilent's president and chief executive, said in a statement.

"Our restructuring actions to achieve $525 million of annualized savings by mid-2010 are on track and, in recognition of the progress we are making, we have fully restored full pay around the world effective Nov. 1.," Sullivan added. Agilent announced in March that it would restructure and downsize its Electronic Measurement businesses, eliminating some 2,700 jobs in the process, although the cuts were not expected to affect the Bioanalytical segment.

Agilent's R&D spending for Q4 fell 12 percent to $150 million from $170 million; while its SG&A expenses increased by 1 percent to $413 million from $408 million in Q4 2008.

As of Oct. 31, Agilent had cash and cash equivalents of $2.48 billion.

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