The US-based firm posted revenues of $371.7m for the three-month period ended March 29 compared to $330.8m in the same period during 2007. Waters attributed a 6 per cent rise in sales growth rate to foreign currency translation. As one of the main laboratory suppliers, Waters' results are an indication that while the pharmaceutical industry is slimming down its investment in R&D the firm continues to invest in laboratory technologies that increase efficiency and research output. With technologies such as the Q Series Thermal Analysis instruments, AR and ARES-G2 Rheometer as well as its Microcalorimetry range, Waters have become a major manufacturer of mass spectrometers and chromatography instruments. Waters have managed to gain significant market share in a crowded industry that includes Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waters, Affymetrix and PerkinElmer. Along with revenue growth, Waters posted a first-quarter profit of $68.5m compared to a 2007 profit of $55.9m. R&D expenses increased 5.9 per cent year over year to $19.8m from $18.7m. In a conference call led by chairman, president, and CEO of Waters, Doug Berthiaume, the company commented on its organic growth, claiming that delays in spending by pharmaceutical customers and weakness in the Japanese market meant that organic growth rate was, 'lighter than we expected.' Waters had originally predicted the Asian market as a key growth market for the company at Pittcon 2007 as pharmaceutical companies continue to outsource R&D to Asia. Indeed, sales for laboratory equipment worldwide have undergone an erratic period since 2005, where lower and inconsistent sales to pharmaceutical heavyweights made future predictions difficult to quantitate. "Despite challenging economic conditions, our global sales performance in combination with improvements in operational efficiency delivered impressive earnings growth and strong cash generation," said Berthiaume. Berthiaume also said that pharmaceutical customers in Europe curbed their spending firm resulting in flat revenue growth among North American pharma firms. Waters fully expected sales to both European and North American drug firms to pick up as the year progresses adding they had an increase in order activity in the first few weeks of the second quarter. "We are cautiously optimistic our pharma business will improve," said Berthiaume, "There continues to be high-quote activity, and there continues to be late-blossoming real business out of those accounts." Waters predicted a 6-8 per cent organic sales growth for 2008 with currency contributing approximately 4 per cent of the growth. The firm fully expected second-quarter sales growth of 11-13 percent. Waters finished the first quarter with a healthy $758.5m in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments.