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Agilent Posts Double-Digit Growth in Q1 Mass Spec Sales, Highlights Diagnostic Ambitions

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Agilent this week posted fiscal first quarter 2012 revenues of $1.64 billion, an 8 percent increase over $1.52 billion a year ago, and slightly short of Wall Street estimates of $1.65 billion.

The company's Life Sciences revenues rose 14 percent to $461 million from $404 million in the first quarter of 2011. Pharma/biotech revenues grew 18 percent and academic/government revenues rose 7 percent.

In an investor call discussing the results, Nick Roelofs, president of Agilent's Life Sciences Group, noted that the company saw "very, very sold double-digit growth in mass spec" during the quarter, and cited its triple quadrupole and Q-TOF instruments as strong performers.

Roelofs also addressed recent moves by Agilent to bolster its presence in the diagnostics space – specifically its decision last month to register its Infinity LC and 6000 mass spec instruments with the US Food and Drug Administration as Class I medical devices (PM 1/20/2012). He described the company as "just dipping our toe in the water" with regard to this market.

"We do not yet have a big push here," he said. "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 president and CEO Bill Sullivan also raised the company's diagnostic ambitions, noting that having "brought in-house the reagents capability, automation capability … we are putting all the pieces together."

"I believe our life science base is solid, and diagnostics is the next logical place to put our toe in," he said.

Agilent saw a profit of $230 million, or $.65 per share, during the quarter, compared to $193 million, or $.54 per share, a year ago.

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

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, Agilent 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 to $3.23 range.

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