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* Q4 EPS 43 cents excluding items, vs Street view 41 cents
* Revenue $498.3 million
* Sees 2010 adjusted EPS $1.35 to $1.42 (Adds CEO comment, sales details)
By Bill Berkrot
NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Scientific instruments maker PerkinElmer Inc (PKI.N) on Thursday reported higher fourth-quarter profit after three successive quarterly declines as customer spending began to pick up, and it issued a 2010 earnings forecast in line with Wall Street estimates.
"Every one of our markets were sequentially better in Q4 than Q3, so we feel fairly confident that we've seen the bottom," Chief Executive Rob Friel said in a telephone interview.
PerkinElmer said net income rose to $39.9 million, or 34 cents per share, from $30.7 million, or 26 cents per share, a year ago, when the company was hit with costs associated with an acquisition.
Excluding items the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company had adjusted earnings of 43 cents per share. That topped analysts' average expectations by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
For 2010, PerkinElmer forecast revenue growth in the low to mid single digits, or about 2 percent to 6 percent. It expects to earn $1.35 to $1.42 per share, excluding items.
Wall Street is estimating 2010 earnings of $1.38 per share and revenue of $1.89 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
"We came out of '09 a better positioned company than when we went in despite a pretty difficult economic headwind we faced," Friel said.
"Now it's just a question of what the uptake looks like," Friel said. "We're going into the year thinking it's going to be fairly modest at least early on. I hope that's conservative."
Revenue for the quarter was about flat at $498.3 million, but that sailed past Wall Street expectations of $479.5 million.
Sales in the environmental health division fell slightly to $304.1 million from $305.9 million, while human health unit sales edged higher to 194.2 million from $193.9 million.
As with many companies, PerkinElmer's results have been heavily impacted by constrained customer spending during the recession. Friel said that was beginning to change in the fourth quarter.
"We did see some strong order pickup toward the end of Q4 and it continues to look like January is trending favorably," he said.
"We saw a little bit of loosening in hospital capital budgets. That's been a difficult area through all of '09 and we are seeing a little bit of improvement. I think that's an encouraging sign," Friel said.
He said the food safety business also was expanding nicely.
PerkinElmer shares were unchanged in after hours trading from their New York Stock Exchange close at $19.82. (Reporting by Bill Berkrot; editing by Carol Bishopric)