Dow Tops 13,000: IBO Stock Indexes Get a Boost

The equity market continues to find bullish sentiment within a sluggish economy. On April 25, led by a strong rally in the blue chip sector, the Dow surpassed the elusive 13,000 mark for the first time. Exuberance over positive earnings in the technology sector and acquisition news helped push all major indexes higher. For the month, the Dow jumped 5.7%, and both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ climbed 4.3%. Not all news was positive for the market. On April 27, the US Commerce Department reported first quarter real GDP of 1.3%, the lowest in four years. As a result, the US dollar immediately dropped to an all-time low against the euro of €1 to $1.3682. Economic growth was spurred primarily by personal consumption, which grew 3.8%. With increased spending and higher personal income growth, inflation concerns continue to rise. The overall core consumer price index climbed to 0.6% for March, following a 0.4% rise in February. However, the core consumer price index, which excludes food and energy, slowed to a 0.1% increase, following a 0.2 % rise in February. The unemployment trend remained positive, as jobless claims released on April 26 fell 20,000 to 321,000. Although durable goods orders increased 3.4% in March, analysts remain cautious. The housing market continued to show weakness: existing home sales declined 8.3% in March, while new home sales edged up 2.6%. Crude oil prices were volatile, but ended the month at $65.87, slightly lower than in March. Year to date, the Dow is up 4.8%, while both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ have gained 4.5%. Following a strong month in March, all four IBO Stock Indexes continued to gain ground. The Lab Consumables/Equipment Index posted the greatest return, up 4.2%, followed by the Process/Metrology/Motion Instrumentation and Laboratory Instrumentation Stock Indexes, which each increased 2.8%, while the Diversified Instrumentation Stock Index improved 2.0%. Laboratory Instrumentation Stock Index For the month, the Laboratory Instrumentation Index climbed 2.8% to close at 568.74. Twelve companies posted gains, seven companies declined and three held ground. Harvard BioSciences showed a steady climb, improving 15%, while Symyx Technologies declined 35% on a negative earnings report (see page 2). For the year, the Index is up 5.4%, with Transgenomic and Bruker BioSciences leading the way, gaining 78% and 53%, respectively. Symyx Technologies has dropped nearly half its value, declining 47% to $11.52. After the market’s close on April 24, Illumina reported first quarter earnings of 22 cents per share, excluding acquisition charges, 14 cents above analysts’ expectations (see page 12). The company increased its earnings outlook for the second quarter and full year and climbed 2.9% over the following two days. On April 26, Thermo Fisher Scientific posted a sharp rise in first quarter profits (see page 12), sending shares to a 52-week high. Following the company’s April 3 announcement of the sale of Genevac (see IBO 4/15/07), shares rallied 5% over the following three days. On April 2, Bear Stearns downgraded Bruker BioSciences to “Underperform” from “Peer Perform,” leading shares down 2.5%. However, the company closed the month up 9%. On April 9, OI reauthorized a 100,000-share repurchase plan, leading shares to rise 5.2%. On April 5, Beckman Coulter traded down 2.7% on heavy volume on news of a competitive bid by Inverness for Biosite. Affymetrix gave back most if its March gains after posting disappointing first quarter results on April 26 (see page 12). The stock dropped 11.4% in one day and ended the month down 13%. On April 26, Applied Biosystems fell 5.9% after it reported lower net income for the fiscal third quarter (see page 12), but shares rebounded 6.0% the next day. On April 18, Cepheid traded at a 52-week high, following FDA clearance for its antibiotic-resistant bacteria test. Cepheid ended the month down 5.0%, but is up 33.0% for the year. Varian traded around a 52-week high on April 10 before UBS downgraded shares from “Buy” to “Neutral.” Consequently, shares dropped 4.0%. On April 26, Robert W. Baird downgraded Varian from “Outperform” to “Neutral,” sending shares down 1.5%. On April 26, Symyx fell 32.6% after it lowered full-year guidance (see page 2). Nollenberger Capital downgraded the shares from “Buy” to “Neutral.” Process/Metrology/Motion Instrumentation Stock Index The Process/Metrology/Motion Instrumentation Stock Index climbed 2.8% in March to 497.37, led primarily by MTS Systems, which gained 9%. The only other company in positive territory was FEI. Four of the five remaining companies were down, while Zygo traded flat. Veeco Instruments and Strategic Diagnostics were the two worst performers this month, falling 6% and 5%, respectively. Year to date, the Index is up a robust 16.3%, led by FEI and Strategic Diagnostics, up 41% and 28%, respectively. Nanometrics led all decliners, falling 18%. On April 4, FEI was recognized by the US Commerce Department for excellence in innovation, driving shares up 2.4%. Despite a downgrade from Global Crown Capital on April 12 from “Overweight” to “Neutral,” FEI traded relatively flat. After the close on April 25, MTS Systems reported second quarter earnings of $0.56 per diluted share on net income of $10.3 million (see page 12), in line with expectations. Strong orders growth led the company to raise full-year guidance. For month-end and year to date, shares are up 9% and 10%, respectively. Lab Consumables/Equipment Stock Index The Laboratory Consumables/Equipment Stock Index rose 4.2% in March to 433.11. All nine companies showed gains. Stratagene experienced the largest gain, up 32%, while New Brunswick Scientific dropped 9%. For the year, the Index is up 13.5%, again with all nine companies increasing. Stratagene and Kewaunee Scientific lead the Index, up 44% and 26%, respectively. Diversified Instrumentation Stock Index The Diversified Instrumentation Stock Index incrased 2.0% for the month to 101.99, with five companies gaining and Danaher unchanged. Teledyne Technologies and Mettler-Toledo improved 18% and 9%, respectively. For the year, the Index is up 2.0%, with four companies improving and two losing ground. Mettler-Toledo leads the Index, up an impressive 24%, while Danaher slipped 2.0%. Agilent’s acquisition of Stratagene was well received by Merrill Lynch analyst Jonathan Groberg, who suggested that revenues would increase roughly 2%. As a result, shares climbed $0.25 to close at $35.06 on April 12. AMETEK traded at a 52-week high of $36.75, following a report of strong first-quarter earnings on April 19 (see page 12). The company also increased its second quarter and full-year earnings forecasts. Danaher posted positive first quarter sales on April 18 and raised guidance for the second quarter, but shares traded relatively flat. Mettler-Toledo climbed 5.49% to close at a 52-week high on April 27, following the release of first quarter earnings (see page 12). Teledyne reported first quarter net earnings of $0.57 a share, verses an expected $0.50 a share, sending shares up 11.21% on April 25. International Shares This month, three Pacific Region companies gained ground, one company lost ground and Techcomp was unchanged. Horiba led the way, climbing 9%, while Hitachi High-Technologies fell 5%. For the year, only Techcomp and JEOL have posted gains, up 44% and 12%, respectively. The remaining three companies have lost ground, with Hitachi High-Technologies sliding 14%. Among the European firms, six companies showed improvement, seven declined in share price, and Whatman was unchanged. Spectris and Cybio were the only companies with significant gains, climbing 11% and 7%, respectively. Millbrook and Robotic Technology Systems retreated 29% and 13%, respectively. For the year, ten European companies have positive returns and four show negative returns. Genetix and Biohit lead the way, up 41% and 26%, respectively, while Millbrook posted the biggest loss, down 39%.

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