PerkinElmer fourth quarter profit tops Street

Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:53pm EST

(Reuters) - PerkinElmer Inc (PKI.N) on Thursday reported higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit, but the maker of scientific instruments issued a 2013 earnings forecast range with a midpoint below Wall Street estimates.

For 2013, the company forecast adjusted earnings of $2.24 to $2.32 per share and organic revenue to rise in the mid-single digit range. PerkinElmer would have to hit the top of that range to meet current Wall Street expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The earnings forecast is somewhat constrained by near-term spending that the company is planning.

"We see a lot of opportunity, particularly in the first half of the year, to invest in some very exciting growth opportunities. We think it's appropriate for us to make these investments now," Chief Executive Robert Friel said in a telephone interview.

For the fourth quarter of 2012, PerkinElmer posted earnings of 65 cents per share, excluding special items, topping analysts' average expectations by 3 cents.

The 2013 outlook also assumes continued customer uncertainty over the potential for large, automatic U.S. spending cuts, known as sequestration, that would kick in in March if Congress fails to come up with a budget agreement.

Earlier on Thursday, PerkinElmer's larger rival Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO.N) issued a 2013 forecast that assumed sequestration cuts, with its CEO saying he was convinced it would happen.

PerkinElmer's Friel said 2013 is likely to look a lot like 2012.

"Clearly the threat of sequestration has had some chilling impact on funding and the ability for the academic institutions to invest in capital equipment," Friel said.

He said the funding uncertainty had a dampening impact in 2012 and "will continue to have an impact in 2013, and so that's what we're assuming."

"Our exposure to U.S. NIH (National Institutes of Health) and academic funding is in the mid-single digits, so it's not as big of an impact on us as it is for some of our peers," he said.

The company, which also makes prenatal and newborn testing equipment and environmental safety monitoring products, had a net loss for the quarter of $15.8 million, or 14 cents per share, primarily due to an accounting adjustment related to pension liability. That compared with a loss of $83.6 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier that included large charges.

Revenue rose 6 percent to $572.9 million, shy of the $578 million Wall Street was estimating.

(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Gary Hill and Leslie Gevirtz)

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