Agilent Technologies has reported a net profit of $13 million or 3 cents a share in the fourth quarter of its financial year, ended 31 October, despite seeing revenues decline 4 per cent to $1.67 billion (€1.4bn). Last year, the firm reported a fourth-quarter loss of $236 million.
The return to profit - for the first time in two years - comes on the back of a 24 per cent reduction in costs and expenses, according to the company, which specialises in scientific and test instruments for the semiconductor and life science industries.
The company trimmed costs by reducing its workforce and consolidating manufacturing sites. Agilent now has 29,000 workers, down more than 30 per cent from two years ago, and operates 15 manufacturing sites instead of 42 in 2001.
"We had a very good finish to a very tough year," said chief executive Ned Barnholt, who added that orders, revenue and earnings all came in above expectations.
Semiconductor orders were at their highest level since early 2001, up by more than a third from a year ago, and orders for automated test equipment were higher for the third consecutive quarter.
The company's life sciences and chemical analysis products saw orders at "record" levels, according to the firm, up 8 per cent year-on-year. This business unit supplies products for capillary electrophoresis, columns and accessories for gas and liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and microfluidics instruments.
Revenues in life sciences and chemicals came in at $321 million, and the division posted an operating profit up 23 per cent to $53 million.
Agilent has forecast that first-quarter earnings next year will be in the 5 to 15 cents a share range, on revenue of $1.55-$1.65 billion.