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Fisher's Q4 Revenue Grows 7.8 Percent; Firm Questions Future of Lab Workstations Unit

Fisher Scientific this week said fourth-quarter sales increased 7.8 percent to $1.42 billion from $1.32 billion year over year. Excluding the impact of foreign exchange, Fisher's fourth-quarter revenue growth would have been 9.3 percent, with organic growth accounting for 7.4 percent of that number.

Revenue for the firm's scientific products and services segment grew 9.3 percent year over year to $1.1 billion. Excluding the effect of foreign exchange, revenue for the segment would have been 11.2 percent, with 8.9 percent organic growth.

Fisher said sales for its healthcare products and services group were up 4.5 percent to $324 million year over year, while sales for its laboratory-workstations segment grew 1.4 percent to $50.5 million.

The firm said that market conditions for the lab workstations business remain "challenging," and it is evaluating whether or not that segment fits with the strategic direction of the firm. In fact, Fisher's 2006 outlook specifically excludes expected results from that segment.

For fiscal 2006, Fisher is predicting revenue growth, excluding the impact of currency translation, of 8 percent to 10 percent, with organic growth of 6 percent to 8 percent. The firm expects its earnings per share to be in the range of $.88 to $.90 per diluted share for the first quarter of 2006 and $4.05 to $4.20 per diluted share for full-year 2006.

Though Fisher does not break out its R&D spending, it said that it expects to spend more on R&D and sales and marketing initiatives, primarily in the biosciences and healthcare businesses, during the first quarter of 2006.

The firm's net income more than doubled to $117.2 million, or $.95 per basic share, compared with $51 million, or $.43 per basic share, for the fourth quarter last year.

Fisher had around $407.2 million in cash and cash equivalents as of Dec. 31.

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