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Waters Q4 Revenues Edge Up Slightly, Beat Street Estimate

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Waters today reported that its fourth quarter revenues were up a fraction of a percent compared to the year-ago period.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2015, Waters' total revenues increased to $587 million from $584 million in Q4 2014, besting the consensus analyst estimate of $582 million.

The effect of foreign currency translation reduced Q4 revenues by 5 percent, the company said.

On a conference call following the earnings release, Waters CEO Christopher O'Connell cited pharma sales as the main growth driver in the quarter, with government and academic sales down.

Waters product and service revenues grew 4 percent in the quarter, with sales to pharma up 6 percent and government and academic sales down mid-single digits. For full-year 2015, revenues from pharma were up around 11 percent with flat academic and government revenues, O'Connell said.

Instrument platform sales grew 3 percent in Q4 with demand strongest for benchtop LC and LC-MS instruments. Full-year sales were up 10 percent. O'Connell noted that the company began shipments in Q4 of its latest high-res mass spec release, the Vion IMS QTOF.

Recurring revenues, comprising the company's services and consumables business, grew at 4 percent in the quarter and were up 9 percent in full year 2015.

US were sales flat in Q4, with modest growth in pharma and industry offset by a decline in government spending. Full-year sales in the US were up 10 percent with balanced growth across all the company's business, O'Connell said. European growth was up 3 percent in Q4, led by mid-single-digit growth in pharma. For full-year 2015, European revenues were up 7 percent, with balanced growth across the company's various segments.

China sales were up 9 percent in Q4 and 16 percent in full year 2015. Sales in Japan were flat for both Q4 and the full year.

In India sales rose at a double-digit rate in Q4 and were up 25 percent in full-year 2015, driven significantly by demand among generic drugmakers for LC instruments, services, consumables, and informatics products, O'Connell said.

Art Caputo, executive vice president and president of the Waters division, said that while the company's academic and government business was down in Q4, it was "encouraged" that increased government funding slated for 2016 would help drive growth in this segment, which accounts for a significant portion of the its high-end mass spectrometry sales.

Net income for the quarter was $151.1 million, or $1.83 per share, compared to a profit of $151.3 million, or $1.80 per share in Q4 2014. On an adjusted basis, EPS was $1.96, beating the consensus Wall Street estimate of $1.95.

R&D spending in the quarter fell slightly year over year to $28.3 million from $28.7 million, while SG&A costs dropped 2 percent to $128.7 million from $132.0 million.

Revenues for full-year 2015 increased 3 percent year over year to $2.04 billion from $1.99 billion in 2014. Before the effects of currency, revenues were up 9 percent, the company said.

Profits for the year were $469.1 million, or $5.65 per share, compared to $431.6 million, or $5.07 per share, in 2014. Adjusted EPS was $5.89, in line with the consensus analyst estimate.

For full year 2015, R&D spending was $118.5 million, up 10 percent from $107.7 million in 2014. SG&A spending was down 3 percent to $495.7 million from $512.7 million the year before.

Waters ended the year with $2.4 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and investments.

For Q1 2016, Waters estimates adjusted EPS to be in the range of $1.17 to $1.27, CFO Gene Cassis said on the call. Adjusted EPS for full-year 2016 is anticipated to be between $6.10 and $6.35, he said.