Agilent tops 4Q forecasts, reiterates 1Q guidance

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Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) hurdled consensus analyst estimates in the fourth quarter and stuck to previously stated first quarter targets.

After market close Monday, Agilent reported fiscal fourth quarter net income of $319 million, or 69 cents, excluding a charge of 3 cents per share in restructuring costs, but including a 17-cents-per-share gain from the sale of assets. First Call's survey of 11 analysts predicted a profit of 53 cents per share for the quarter ended Oct. 31.

First Call estimates normally exclude one-time events, but analysts' fourth quarter forecasts for Agilent included the benefit from the asset sale.

Shares of Agilent rose to 46.25 in afterhours activity on the Island electronic communications network, following the earnings report. Agilent stock fell 2.75 to 44.625 in Monday's regular trading, prior to the release of quarterly results.

Including all items, Agilent earned $305 million, or 66 cents per share. Excluding all one-time events, Agilent earned 52 cents per share.

Also Monday, Agilent reiterated its goal of at least 20 percent revenue growth in fiscal 2001, with 8 percent net margins. The company believes First Call's consensus prediction of 45 cents per share in the first quarter is "realistic", CEO Ned Barnholt said.

Fourth quarter revenue increased 38 percent year-over-year to $3.37 billion. Test and measurement revenue led with 67 percent year-over-year growth to $2.05 billion, followed by 38 percent to $678 million for semiconductor products and 7 percent to $291 million for chemical analysis. Healthcare-related revenue fell 7 percent year-over-year to $355 million.

Despite market concerns about growth in optical networking and communications, demand for Agilent's fiber optic testing and flash memory products remains strong, executives said, during a conference call with analysts. Agilent -- whose product line varies widely to include test and measurement devices, semiconductor and optical components and medical equipment -- benefits from having a diverse product line, executives said.

"Entering FY ༼ with our backlog ... gives us increased confidence that we can deliver on the guidance we talked about," Barnholt told analysts.

Orders in the fourth quarter rose 24 percent from the year ago period, to $3.1 billion. Test and measurement orders increased 32 percent to $1.87 billion. Semiconductor orders increased 34 percent to $593 million.

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