Acquisitions and Operating Efficiencies Push Profits Higher

Fourth-quarter sales for the Lab Equipment/Consumables Index gained 9.8% to $865 million, while operating profits improved 15.7% to $243 million. Operating margin for the same period improved 150 basis points to 28.1% of sales. For the year, Index sales rose 11.0% to $3,284 million, operating profits increased 20.3% to $700 million and operating margin jumped 220 basis points to 28.4% of total annual sales. The dramatic increase in operating profits is largely attributed to favorable results achieved by Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Laboratory Products and Services and Millipore’s Bioscience divisions. Biohit Oyj’s fourth-quarter sales increased 4.6% to €9.1 million ($13.2 million = €0.69 = $1) from €8.7 million ($11.2 million = €0.78 = $1) (see page 12), while operating income recorded a profit of €0.2 million ($0.3 million) compared to a loss of €0.1 million ($0.1 million) last year. Year-end sales grew 4.5% to €32.8 million ($44.9 million = €0.73 = $1) from €31.4 million ($39.2 million = €0.80 = $1), while the operating loss widened to €0.5 million ($0.7 million) from a loss of €0.1 million ($0.1 million) in 2006. The financial results were below company’s expectations, which was primarily due to slower sales in the Asian market. The bottom line was also negatively affected by the strong euro, as well as by increased operating and financing costs. Liquid handling sales grew 5.4% to account for 95% of sales, while operating profits improved 13.5% to €2.5 ($3.4 million). Diagnostics product sales declined 10.5% to make up 5% of total sales, while operating loss widened to €2.9 ($4.0 million) from €2.4 ($3.0 million). Looking forward, the company expects sustained revenue growth for its liquid handling products, with strong demand in North America, Russia and emerging markets. Sales of diagnostics products are also forecasted to grow, particularly in China, Russia and Europe. However, increased spending efforts to improve sales of diagnostics products will negatively impact earnings. Kewaunee Scientific reported a 21.3% increase in fiscal third-quarter revenues to $21.9 million (see page 12). Order backlog grew 21.0% to $58.8 million from a year ago and was up 7.1% from the previous quarter. Domestic sales for the quarter grew 20.0% to account for 81% of total sales, while international sales jumped 26.9% to make up 19%. Adjusted operating profits soared 92.0% to $1.5 million, and gross margins improved 630 basis points to 22.0% of sales due to increased manufacturing efficiencies, as well as lower cost of goods sold. While the company anticipates positive revenue growth and continued profitability for the fiscal fourth quarter, earnings may be adversely affected by the higher costs of raw materials. Fourth-quarter revenues for Millipore’s Bioscience division grew 12.3%, or 6.0% organically, to $178.4 million to account for 44.0% of Millipore’s total sales. Revenue growth was led by strong sales in the drug discovery and lab water businesses, particularly in Asia. Year-end sales increased 29.2% to $653.1 million to make up 42.6% of total sales. Favorable currency transactions and acquisitions accounted for 5% and 16% of revenue growth, respectively. Organic revenues grew 8%, benefiting from strong demand in the life science research market, as well as from increased drug discovery activity, particularly in international markets such as China and India. Bioscience reported strong sales of lab water and life science products, including analytical sample preparation and molecular biology products. Sales of drug discovery products improved during the second half of the year due to stronger sales of multiplex immunoassays. Millipore anticipates that total company revenues will grow 6%–7% for 2008, including 2% growth from favorable currency transactions, with the Bioscience segment growing above the company’s growth rate. On a pro forma basis, Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Laboratory Products and Services’ fourth-quarter sales climbed 10.3% to $1,545.5 million to account for 59% of the company’s revenues. Operating profits climbed 19.2% to $207.0 million, while operating profit margins improved 100 basis points to 13.4% of sales. For the year, segment sales grew 7.4% to $5,842.2 million to make up 60% of total sales, led by strong demand for research and biopharmaceutical products. Organic revenues for Laboratory Product and Services grew 5.0%, while favorable currency translation contributed 2.0% to revenue growth. Operating income increased 19.8% to $793.8 million, and operating profit margins improved 140 basis points to 13.6% of sales primarily due to price increases and productivity improvements. VWR International’s year-end revenues grew 8.1%, or 3.2% organically, to $3,522.0 million. Adjusted operating profit rose 4.6% to $200.8 million, while operating profit margins improved 70 basis points to 27.8% of sales. Favorable currency transactions and acquisitions combined accounted for 5.0% of growth. North American Lab sales grew 2.7%, or 2.1% organically, to account for 57.3% of total sales, led by mid single-digit growth in the industrial markets and low single-digit growth in the pharmaceutical research markets. European lab sales increased 17.0% to make up 37.8% of sales. Organic growth contributed 3.8%, while acquisitions and foreign currency added a combined 13.2% to segment sales. European sales grew due to strong demand from the pharmaceutical, industrial, and food and beverage markets, but were slightly offset by slower sales to public institutions. Science Education revenue climbed 11.9% to represent 4.9% of total sales. For the year, Whatman’s Lab Sciences sales slipped 1.9% to £68.1 million ($136.2 million = £0.50 = $1) to make up 59.0% of total company sales due to slower demand for membranes and chromatography products. However, at constant exchange rates, segment revenues would have gained 3.0%. Lab Sciences’ operating profits declined 0.5% to £19.2 million ($38.4 million), but grew 2.7% on a currency-neutral basis. BioScience’s sales fell 6.3%, or 3.0% at constant exchange rates, to £29.5 million ($59.0 million) to account for 25.5% of company sales due to the large orders executed in 2006. Operating profits fell 28.8%, or 26.3% on a currency-neutral basis, to £4.2 million ($8.4 million). Orders for Lab Sciences and BioScience increased 19% and 45%, respectively. Total company sales to Europe and North America declined 8.0% and 5.8% to account for 43.0% and 39.3% of sales, respectively, while sales to the Rest of the World grew 9.0% to make up 17.7%.

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