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Becton Dickinson's 1st-Quarter Earnings Surge; Raises Year-View

02/05/2013 | 06:50am US/Eastern
   By Saabira Chaudhuri 

Becton Dickinson & Co.'s (>> Becton, Dickinson and Co.) fiscal first-quarter earnings more than doubled as the medical device maker recorded revenue growth across all its segments, while margins also widened.

For the current year, Becton raised the bottom end of its revenue guidance, now expecting foreign currency neutral revenue growth starting at 4% versus its prior view starting at 3.5%. It now expects per-share earnings from continuing operations between $5.69 and $5.72, up from its prior view of earnings between $5.58 and $5.64.

The maker of products like surgical blades and test kits last spring struck a deal to sell the bulk of its lab-products business to Corning Inc. (>> Corning Incorporated) for $730 million in cash. Analysts who follow the company noted the sale stripped Becton Dickinson of a cash cow yet also gave it the freedom to focus on businesses with higher growth potential.

Ahead of the company's earnings announcement, analysts at Mizuho Securities downgraded Becton's ratings, noting that the company's life science research business--which makes up about 15% of sales--has been a drag on results for the past year, adding that they see no significant catalysts for the business in the near-term, as the academic market continues to be sluggish.

Still, Chief Executive Vincent A. Forlenza on Tuesday said the company is "starting to see notable results," adding that Becton is "growing revenues across our three segments, driving margin expansion and delivering a higher quality of earnings."

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Becton Dickinson reported a profit of $625.4 million, or $3.13 a share, compared with $263 million, or $1.21 a share, a year earlier. Per-share earnings from continuing operations were $1.35 versus $1.14.

Revenue increased 3.7% to $1.9 billion. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently forecast earnings of $1.24 a share on revenue of $1.86 billion.

Gross margin widened to 52.9% from 50.8%.

Becton Dickinson's sales grew 3% in the U.S. and 4.3% internationally. The company's medical unit, its largest by revenue, reported sales rose 3.5%. The diagnostics business posted revenue growth 5%, while bioscience revenue was up 1.7%.

Shares closed Monday at $85.16 and were inactive premarket. The stock has risen 11% in the past three months.

Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at saabira.chaudhuri@dowjones.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

Stocks mentioned in the article : Becton, Dickinson and Co., Corning Incorporated
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