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Quest Reports 1 Percent Q4 Sales Dip

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Quest Diagnostics today reported that its fourth quarter sales were down around 1 percent year over year.

The clinical lab and diagnostic information services provider reported revenues of $1.76 billion for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2013, down one percent year over year from $1.77 billion. Analysts, on average, had estimated the firm's revenue for the quarter at around $1.74 billion.

The firm's net income for the quarter was $143 million, or $.97 per share, compared to $56 million, or $.43 per share, in the year-ago period. On an adjusted basis, its EPS was $1.03, well above the $.93 expected by analysts.

For full-year 2013, Quest reported revenues of $7.14 billion, down around 3 percent from $7.39 billion in FY 2013. It nudged past analysts' consensus estimate of $7.13 billion.

Quest posted net income of $849 million, or $5.54 per share, compared with $556 million, or $3.46 per share, for 2012. On an adjusted basis, EPS for the year was $4.00, beating out analysts' consensus estimate of $3.90.

"As we have said throughout the past year, we are operating in a challenging environment and continue to face industry-wide headwinds on reimbursement and utilization," Quest President and CEO Steve Rusckowski said in a statement. "To respond to those pressures, we have implemented a great deal of change in a very short time and we have made good progress, which is reflected in this quarter's sequentially improving year-over-year trends for volume, revenue per requisition, and revenues."

Quest ended the year with $187 million in cash and cash equivalents.

Quest said it expects its full-year 2014 revenues to be flat to 2 percent below 2013, excluding the acquisition of Solstas Lab Partners, which it agreed to buy for $570 million this month. The firm's 2014 EPS is expected to be between $3.90 and $4.10.

Quest also said today that its board of directors has authorized a 10 percent increase in its quarterly dividend, from $.30 to $.33 per share, or $1.32 annually.

Rusckowski said the dividend increase underscores "confidence in our continued ability to generate strong cash flow in the future."

In Thursday morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange, shares of Quest were up a fraction of 1 percent at $54.06.