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.
The EMG unit expects to grow 3.2 percent in the coming year. Orders in the last quarter outpaced shipments, which can be an indicator of momentum in the market, S??said.
Overall, net income fell to $211 million, or 63 cents per share, in the fourth quarter. That compares with $425 million, or $1.20 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.
Adjusted to remove one-time items, Agilent posted earnings of 81 cents per share, exceeding analysts' expectations of 76 cents per share.
Agilent stock, which closed at $50.54 a share Thursday, jumped 5.6 percent in after-hours trading.
Meanwhile, the landscape is changing at the Santa Rosa campus, which employs 1,175 people, as it prepares to be cut loose from the mother ship.
The staff in Santa Rosa will grow by about 80 positions. Many of those additions will be legal, finance and human resource professionals already working for Agilent who will gradually relocate to the area, S??said.
A new testing facility, the product of $100 million in investments over the last five years, is under construction and slated to open in mid-December.
And the search for a new name continues, with an original crop of 2,000 possibilities narrowed down to 10.
"I spent a lot of time with employees across the world, and customers, and in general everyone is positive about the change," S??said.