Agilent’s life science sales grow as profits drop

By Dr Matt Wilkinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cent Revenue

Agilent recorded strong third quarter revenue growth for its Bio-Analytical segment, which was tempered by the stagnation of income from its Electronic Measurement division.

As a whole, the company recorded revenues of $1.44bn for the third quarter of 2008, up 5 per cent from the $1.37bn reported for the same period in 2007.

Operating income for the quarter rose 30 per cent to $218m, while net income dropped 9 per cent to $169m due to acquisition-related charges.

Research and development expenses remained unchanged compared to the $170m recorded in the third quarter of 2007; however as a percentage of revenues the figure fell from 12.4 per cent to 11.8 per cent of revenues.

During the company’s third quarter earnings conference call, Bill Sullivan, Agilent’s CEO, highlighted the life science market as the company’s fastest growing business opportunity as well as stating that the firm is “narrowing R&D investment to focus on bringing to market innovative revenue-generating products as soon as possible.“

Revenues from Agilent’s Bio-Analytical Measurement division rose 13 per cent to $566m, compared to the same period in the previous year. 10 per cent of this growth was achieved organically, with the remaining 3 per cent being contributed by the recently acquired Stratagene and Velocity 11.

The division’s operating income rose 23 per cent to $101m, compared to the $82m recorded during the third quarter in 2007.

“In life sciences, revenues of $247m were up 18 per cent from last year… in this area, revenue from the pharma and biotech markets was up 14 per cent year over year, with modest growth in the US and Europe and a strong performance from Asia,”​ said Adrian Dillon, Agilent’s chief financial officer.

“In the academic and government markets we experienced strong growth, with revenues up 36 per cent from last year. In addition, our microarray business was up nearly 50 per cent, and we also saw strong demand for related bio-reagents as well as mass spec.”

However, the chemical analysis division did not fare quite so well, achieving 10 per cent year over year revenue growth to reach $319m, reflecting “13 per cent growth in traditional chemical analysis markets and a continued decline in materials science markets.”

Agilent has boosted its recently formed Materials Science Services Unit (MSSU) with the acquisition of Particle Sizing Systems and the Nano Instruments Division of MTS Systems Corporation, which expand the company’s nanotechnology product portfolio in the areas of particle analysis and nanoindentation.

Revenues from Agilent’s Electronic Measurement for the quarter were $878m, growing less than 1 per cent when compared to the same period last year, mainly due to a 50 per cent decline in revenue from semiconductor-related parametric test equipment.

While revenues from Europe rose 15 per cent, revenues from the Americas were flat and revenues from Asia were down 5 per cent.

However, even though the revenues failed to grow significantly, the company managed to increase the segment’s operating income by 16 per cent, with operating profits reaching $135m.

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