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Agilent Q1 Revenues Rise 8 Percent as Life Sciences Bounce 14 Percent

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Agilent Technologies said after the close of the market on Wednesday that fiscal first-quarter revenues for 2012 climbed 8 percent year over year, as Life Sciences revenues increased 14 percent.

Total revenues for the three months ended Jan. 31, reached $1.64 billion, compared to $1.52 billion a year ago, and just short of consensus analyst expectations of $1.65 billion.

Orders during the quarter decreased slightly to $1.62 billion from $1.63 billion during the year-ago period.

Life Sciences revenues climbed to $461 million from $404 million, while orders rose 5 percent year over year to $463 million from $442 million.

Among the Santa Clara, Calif.-based firm's other segments, Chemical Analysis revenues increased 13 percent to $396 million from $349 million, while orders increased to $403 million from $388 million. Electronic Measurement revenues ticked up a fraction of 1 percent to $778 million from $771 million as orders decreased to $757 million from $797 million.

On a conference call after the release of the earnings President and CEO Bill Sullivan said that all key markets remained strong with environmental revenues up 16 percent year over year, food up 14 percent, and petro-chemical growing 14 percent.

Pharma/biotech grew 18 percent and academic/government revenues rose 7 percent.

In its Life Sciences Group Agilent listed its Infinity Series 1200 LC instruments and 6000 Series mass specs as Class I medical devices with the US Food and Drug Administration in January, and on the conference call Sullivan called the move "an important step for Agilent's strategic initiative in the diagnostics market."

In July the company also registered its manufacturing facility in Cedar Creek, Texas with the agency as a medical device establishment.

Nick Roelofs, president of the company's Life Sciences Group, said on the call that while the company is producing "a few things in the cytogenetics area" and that it is in discussions with FDA about those products, diagnostics remains a small part of Agilent.

"We just getting our toe in the water," he said. "We do not yet have a big push here, we do not yet have a big, significant presence in regulatory or clinical trial management, so these are elements that we'll need to work through."

Agilent is not in the sequencing instrument business, but offers reagents for use on the front-end of the sequencing workflow, and all the current activity in the next-generation sequencing space should positively impact Agilent, Roelofs said.

In addition to the installed base of high-throughput sequencers in large sequencing centers, the company believes that benchtop sequencers, such as the Ion Torrent instruments and Illumina's MiSeq platform, will also see a significant uptake, and "both of those things are really positives for somebody who's in genome partitioning," an area that Agilent addresses with its SureSelect platforms.

"We think the personal sequencer world is definitely going to be dominated by partitioned genome subsets and kits, and we're seeing the gigabase world start to talk more about exome rather than whole genome," sequencing, Roelofs said.

He also said that in Agilent's liquid chromatography business, the firm sees "tremendous demand" for UPHLC methods, driving up Agilent's total LC business in the upper-single digits year over year. Agilent's mass spectrometry revenues grew in the double-digits in the quarter, he added.

In the quarter, Agilent increased its R&D spending 2 percent to $162 million from $159 million in the year-ago period. Its SG&A costs contracted 1 percent to $441 million from $446 million.

The company saw a profit of $230 million, or $.65 per share, during the quarter, compared to $193 million, or $.54 per share, a year ago. Agilent took a charge of $27 million for intangible amortization in the quarter, transformational charges of $8 million, and acquisition and integration costs of $7 million. It also recognized a tax benefit of $24 million.

Excluding the items along with $4 million in other net benefits, Agilent's non-GAAP profit in the quarter was $244 million, or $.69 per share, even with Wall Street expectations.

Agilent finished the quarter with $3.66 billion in cash and cash equivalents.

The company said that for the fiscal second quarter revenues are anticipated to be in a range between $1.70 billion and $1.72 billion, and non-GAAP EPS to be in a range of $.71 and $.73.

For full-year 2012, the company said revenues are now expected in the range of between $6.92 billion and $7.02 billion, reflecting current exchange rates. Non-GAAP EPS is anticipated to settle in the $3.13 and $3.23 range.

CFO Didier Hirsch said that revenue growth in 2012 is expected to be slower in the first half of the year, about 4 percent year over year at the mid-point of its guidance range. In the second half of the year, revenues are anticipated to grow about 6 percent year over year.