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Strong Microarray Sales Spur 17 Percent Growth in Agilent's Life Science Business

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent today reported 17 percent year-over-year revenue growth in its Life Science business unit for its fourth fiscal quarter, driven by a 40 percent boost in microarray sales.
For the three months ended Oct. 31, 2008, revenues for Agilent’s Life Science business, a division of its Bio-Analytical Measurement unit, rose 17 percent to $276 million. Revenue growth for this business was 10 percent excluding acquisitions.
Agilent said in a statement that spending by pharma and biotech customers was up 15 percent in the quarter “despite continued weakness in the Americas and parts of Europe,” while sales to the academic and government markets rose 22 percent over the year-ago period, “with particular strength in microarrays, which were up over 40 percent.”
Revenues for the Bio-Analytical Measurement unit, which includes the Life Science and Chemical Analysis businesses, rose 10 percent to $616 million from $558 million in the comparable period of 2007, with organic growth of 5 percent. Total orders for the unit were up 8 percent.
Geographically, revenues for the Bio-Analytical Measurement unit rose 12 percent in the Americas, 2 percent in Europe, and 20 percent in Asia, with China “particularly strong,” Agilent said.
The company said that it saw “strength across the major platforms” in the Bio-analytical Measurement unit, which includes gas chromatography, liquid chromatography, and liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy systems. Orders for instruments and consumables for these systems increased more than 10 percent from the year-ago period.
Agilent reported total fourth-quarter revenues of $1.48 billion, an increase of 2 percent over $1.45 billion in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2007. Bill Sullivan, Agilent’s president and CEO, said in a statement that fourth-quarter revenues “came in below the low end of our expectations because of weaker than expected Electronic Measurement markets.”
Indeed, fourth-quarter Electronic Measurement revenues fell 3 percent to $865 million from $888 million, with the Americas up 2 percent, Europe down 2 percent, Japan down 15 percent and the rest of Asia down 3 percent. Orders for the unit fell 10 percent year-over-year.
The company reported total organic revenue growth in the Americas of around 4 percent, and said that local currency revenues were nearly flat in Asia due to “continued weakness” in Japan. In Europe, organic revenues were down about 5 percent from the prior-year period.
Agilent’s total R&D spending decreased 2 percent to $170 million from $174 million in the year-ago period, while SG&A costs dipped 4 percent to $408 million from $426 million.
Agilent reported a 28 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income to $231 million, or $.64 per diluted share, from $180 million, or $0.46 per share.
The company had $1.4 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Oct. 31.
Sullivan said that Agilent’s forecast for fiscal 2009 "is based on the assumption that an economic downturn in much of the world will continue through mid-2009, and that no geographies or markets will be entirely immune from its impact."
In light of this, Sullivan said that Agilent predicts fiscal first quarter revenues in the range of $1.34 billion to $1.39 billion, down 4 percent to flat compared with last year.
Sullivan said the company will provide further guidance for fiscal 2009 at its annual analyst meeting, scheduled for Dec. 9 in New York City.

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