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Agilent's Proteomics Tools Segment Grows 22 Percent in Fiscal Q1; New LC, MS Tools Shine

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Agilent last week reported that sales of its newest liquid chromatographer and mass spectrometer helped to increase fiscal first-quarter revenue in its Bio-Analytical division 22 percent to $455 million from $373 million a year ago.
 
Profit during the period in the division, which includes the company’s proteomics products, increased 69 percent to $88 million year-over-year.
 
The unit’s growth helped overall revenues at Agilent grow 9.7 percent to $1.28 billion from $1.17 billion year over year. Revenue from the Bio-Analytical division comprised 35.5 percent of Agilent’s total revenues during the quarter, up from 32 percent the year before.
 
Geographically, company-wide revenues grew 7 percent in the Americas and in Asia-Pacific, and 17 percent in Europe. Growth in China, up 34 percent, and India, up 38 percent, was especially strong.
 
“Our Bio-Analytical had a blowout first quarter,” said Adrian Dillon, CFO and executive vice president of finance and administration for Agilent.
 
Within the division, life sciences revenues, riding the wave of year-end spending by pharmaceutical and biotech companies, rose 23 percent to $195 million. Chemical analysis, the other part of the Bio-Analytical division, saw revenues rise 21 percent to $260 million.
 
Company officials spotlighted the take-up of proteomics-related instruments launched during the past year — in particular the 1200 series LC and a series of new mass specs.
 
In a separate announcement last week, Agilent said it has just shipped the 1,000th unit of its 1200 series Rapid Resolution LC, one year after it hit the market. In a statement, Chris van Ingen, president and general manager of Agilent’s Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis business, said the “remarkably fast ramp rate is strong proof of customer and marketplace acceptance of our 1200 Rapid Resolution instruments.”
 
Meanwhile, Agilent CEO William Sullivan lauded the company’s new 6410 triple quadrupole LC/MS system during a conference call with Wall Street analysts last week.
 
The company has shipped about 200 units of the instrument since it was introduced last March, he said.
 
“The launch of [the 6410] into a market where we essentially have had zero market share has been very well accepted,” Sullivan said.
 
The company also launched in 2006 the 6100 series single-quadrupole LC/MS with four models; 6210 TOF MS; 6300 series ion trap MS; and 6510 quadrupole TOF LC/MS.
 
LC/MS revenues more than doubled during the first quarter of 2007, compared to the year-ago period, said Sullivan, though he did not provide specific numbers.
 
Changing Business Focus
 
Last year marked a turning point for Agilent as it completed a five-year, $1.4-billion makeover transforming the company into a pure-play measurement firm from one known primarily for its semiconductor business.
 
One of the results of the change was a newfound interest in its proteomics business. In January at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, company officials outlined a four-point growth strategy that signaled Agilent’s intentions in the proteomics space.
 

Company officials spotlighted the take-up of proteomics-related instruments launched during the past year — in particular the 1200 series liquid chromatographer and a series of new mass spectrometers.

Item number one in the plan: Focus on building a multi-sector LC/MS instrument business, which would be a new space for Agilent. Up until now most of Agilent’s LC/MS business has been in single-sector instrumentation.
 
“So we’re now preparing to play in a much deeper element of the proteomic and metabolomic market with the ability to analyze proteins, do differential expression, and go far beyond the [identification of proteins],” said Nick Roelofs, general manager of life sciences at Agilent at the JP Morgan conference, held in San Francisco [See PM 01/11/07].
 
Agilent’s rivals have taken notice. In San Francisco, Thermo Fisher Scientific CEO Marijn Dekkers said Agilent’s market reach and customer relationships have “changed the competitive dynamic” in the mass-spec space.
 
This week, Sullivan said Agilent remains committed to growing the Bio-Analytical business.
 
“Going forward, we’ll continue to focus our Bio-Analytical R&D investment and expand our portfolio,” he said. “We believe we have the right products and the right performance, ease of use at the right price point that we’re getting a lot of customers quite interested in our product launches.
 
“You couple that with our continued investment in microarrays, informatics, consumables and support; our BioAnalytical measurement business is just doing an outstanding job,” he said.
 
During the quarter, Agilent saw profits slide to $150 million from $2.7 billion recorded the first quarter of 2006. Year-ago figures include gains of more than $2.7 billion from the sale of its semiconductor business.
 
Agilent said it spent $168 million in R&D during the quarter and had $2.1 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of Jan. 31. The company said it expects revenue in the second quarter to grow between 5 and 8 percent year over year, or to between $1.3 billion and $1.34 billion.

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