Waters today reported that its fourth quarter revenues were up 9 percent compared to the year-ago period.
For the three months ended Dec. 31, 2017, Waters’ total revenues increased to $687 million from $629 million in Q4 2016, besting the consensus analyst estimate of $669 million.
The effect of foreign currency translation boosted Q4 revenues by 3 percent, the company said.
On a conference call following the earnings release, Waters CEO Christopher O’Connell cited broad-based growth, particularly among the company’s pharma customers, as driving sales in the quarter and throughout 2017.
Pharma sales were up 8 percent (in constant currency) on the quarter and 7 percent in 2017. Government and academic sales were up 13 percent in Q4 and 6 percent in 2017. Sales to industrial markets were flat in the quarter and up 5 percent in 2017.
Instrument platform sales grew 4 percent in Q4, while full-year sales were up 5 percent. Growth was “led by particular strength in core LC and LC-MS systems sold to our pharmaceutical customers,” O’Connell said. He cited as particularly strong performers the company’s benchtop LC tandem mass spec systems including its Xevo TQ-XS and Xevo TQ-S micro.
“We continue to see the expansion of mass spec technology into routine quantification workflows,” he added.
Waters’ recurring revenues grew 8 percent in the quarter and 7 percent full-year.
In Q4, sales were up 6 percent in the Americas, 6 percent in Asia, and 7 percent in Europe. For full-year 2017 they were flat in the Americas, up 10 percent in Asia, and up 8 percent in Europe.
O’Connell discussed on the call the potential impact of the recently passed US tax bill, saying that the bill provided the company “tax-efficient access to our significant global free cash flow.”
He suggested this could increase the company’s US investment, noting that “there is now opportunity to invest in the [US] at a lower cost of capital.”