Agilent Technologies ends year by beating Wall Street expectations

  • Mike Cobery, of ETS-Lingren, installs radio frequency (RF) absorbing panels on the sides of a five-meter semi-anechoic chamber used for testing RF emissions of various products at Agilent Technologies' new Electro-Magnetic Compatibility Lab in Santa Rosa, Calif., on November 14, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Agilent Technologies, Sonoma County's largest high-tech employer, reported Thursday that revenues dropped at the end of its fiscal year but the company still exceeded Wall Street expectations.

The Electronic Measurement unit, which is primarily based in Santa Rosa, reported $705 million in revenues for the quarter ending Oct. 31, down 14 percent from a year ago.

Overall, the Santa Clara company posted $1.72 billion in revenues in the fourth quarter, down 3 percent from last year.

CEO Bill Sullivan said the company is well into the process of splitting Agilent into two publicly traded companies. One, which will keep the Agilent name, will focus on life sciences and the pharmaceutical industry. The other, which has not yet been named, will be headquartered in Santa Rosa and retain the electronic measurement business.

The split, which was announced in September without a firm date, will be completed in early November 2014, Sullivan said.

The economic environment has been challenging in the markets the company serves, especially the communications sector, said Guy S?? who will be senior vice president of R&D, sales and marketing in the electronic measurement company once the spinoff is complete.

In addition, the company's revenues continued to be lower than last year in part because of the contract it lost with a wireless manufacturer, which an analyst identified as Apple.

But there are signs that demand for products made by the Santa Rosa unit is increasing, S??said.

"We've made progress," S??said. "We're still in a challenging overall situation, but we're starting to see some positive signs in the industry for some of our markets, like semiconductors."

The local unit reported operating margins of 19 percent, reflecting strong management of spending, the company said.

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