UPDATE 3-Life Tech says all ideas on table in strategic review

Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:42pm EST

* 4th quarter EPS $1.11, excluding items, matches Street

* Revenue up 3 percent to $999 million

* Sees 2013 EPS $4.30 to $4.45, excluding items

* Says strategic review ongoing, no decisions made

* Shares up slightly

By Bill Berkrot

Feb 4 (Reuters) - Life Technologies Inc, which is undergoing a strategic review that could lead to the company's sale, said on Monday its board had made no decisions and it was open to all options.

Life Tech, which noted that the process began last summer when company shares were trading in the $40 range, said the board review was ongoing.

"All ideas are on the table, including pursuing our current strategy or something different," Chief Executive Gregory Lucier said on a conference call with analysts and investors.

Shares of the maker of genetic diagnostic equipment and cultures are up nearly 30 percent this year fueled by speculation a buyer for the company might emerge. They closed at $63.02 on Nasdaq and rose to $63.25 in extended trading.

Reuters reported last week that Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc and private equity groups were considering a bid for Life Tech, citing people familiar with the process.

Life Tech on Monday reported a higher fourth-quarter profit that matched Wall Street expectations on increased demand for its Ion Torrent genetic sequencing equipment and growth in emerging markets.

The company also issued a 2013 earnings forecast range with a midpoint close to Wall Street expectations.

For 2013, the company forecast earnings of $4.30 to $4.45 per share, excluding items, and revenue growth of 3 to 5 percent over 2012 sales of $3.8 billion. Wall Street on average is estimating earnings of $4.35 per share and revenue of $3.9 billion.

The company said its forecast does not presume the automatic U.S. budget cuts, known as sequestration, that would kick in if Congress is unable to agree on a budget before next month - a move that would constrain spending by Life Tech's government and academic customers.

But it said the risk of sequestration was real and it would adjust its 2013 forecast if necessary. If sequestration is implemented, it would reduce revenue by about 1 percent and the company would expect to be at the low end of the guidance range for 2013, Life Tech said.

"For 2013, we expect another significant increase in our Ion Torrent business sales for the third consecutive year and expansion in our applied and emerging markets to drive revenue growth," Lucier said in a statement.

The company expected the fourth quarter to be its strongest of 2013.

"We expect the strength we saw across all regions and end markets as we exited 2012, including continued double digit growth in emerging markets, to provide momentum in 2013," Lucier said, adding that Ion Torrent was coming off its best sales quarter ever.

The company said business in China was growing and that sales from Asia/Pacific were up 18 percent in the fourth quarter.

Life Tech said it expected to pursue acquisitions aimed at broadening its geographic reach.

"There is a roadmap of countries where we will either build or buy," Lucier told analysts, adding it is safe to assume there will be "a few acquisitions in terms of expanding our commercial footprint."

Life posted a net profit of $109.9 million, or 63 cents per share, compared with a profit of $93.1 million, or 51 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.11 per share, matching analysts' average expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $999 million, edging past Wall Street estimates of $989.5 million.

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