Fourth-quarter revenues came in at $220m and represented something of a slowdown for Icon’s business as revenues for the full-year were ahead by 37 per cent to $865m. Operating income was up 34 per cent to $26.5m for the quarter and 44 per cent for the year.
Icon’s chairman, Dr. John Climax, described 2008 as an “outstanding year,” adding that it was the second year in a row that the firm had put in growth of that magnitude.
But chief executive Peter Gray sounded a cautious note: “With our backlog at $1.74bn we have entered 2009 in a good position, although the difficult economic climate has put some customers under pressure and has created a degree of uncertainty.”
Those comments – referring to an increasing tendency by trial sponsors to delay or even cancel contracts in light of the economic downturn - are in line with just about all of Icon’s peers in their further-quarter statements.
The backlog figure also provides some indication that Icon is being affected by the slowdown. It is currently running at around three quarters of forecast 12-month revenues, and that is the lowest proportion at Icon since August 2005.
Icon shares dipped 9 per cent on the Nasdaq on the day the results were announced (Feb 23) to close at $21.42 – but have since regained some of that territory, closing at $22.26 yesterday.