Can Pall Stand Tall After an Impressive Quarter?

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Filtration specialist Pall (NYS: PLL) beat the Street with better-than-expected first-quarter numbers.

Does this make Pall worth a watch now? Let's see.

A peek at the numbers
With sales increasing across all segments and regions, Pall's revenue climbed 16.5% from the year-ago quarter, to $705.6 million. Its life sciences segment's revenue went up 14.3%, to $356 million, backed by strong demand from the biotech and medical markets. What's noteworthy is that a good part of this segment's top-line growth was attributed to emerging markets, where sales grew 22% from last year.

The health-care sector's buoyancy is also evident from the performance in the last quarter of bigger rival General Electric's (NYS: GE) health-care segment. Strong demand from the emerging markets pushed up this segment's third-quarter revenues by 9%, to $4.3 billion.

Emerging markets played an equally big role in boosting Pall's industrial segment sales, which rose 18.9%, to $249.5 million, from last year. Sales in these markets grew an impressive 46%. Most industry players have been benefiting from the fast-growing regions. Take peer 3M (NYS: MMM) , for instance. Its industrial segment sales clocked an 18.8% jump, to $2.6 billion, in its third quarter, when sales in markets like Asia-Pacific surged 28%.

Pall's growing top line, however, couldn't translate into higher profits. Owing to higher expenses related to an earlier acquisition, information technology upgrades, and employee obligations (which were the result of Pall's cost-cutting initiatives), Pall's net profit came in a tad lower at $69.5 million, compared to $71.4 million a year ago.

Keen eye on growth
With fast-growing markets contributing almost 20% to Pall's total sales, the company is wisely expanding in those regions. Its July agreement to acquire Brazil-based distributor Engefiltro is proof of that. This acquisition has given Pall a great opportunity to continue to gain traction in Latin America. Pall's investments so far in emerging regions seem to be paying off, as sales grew almost 35% in these regions in the last quarter.

Pall is not the only one eyeing these markets. Peer Donaldson (NYS: DCI) is working on an air filter plant in Mexico targeting higher filter manufacturing for Latin America. These events, along with the fact that GE is so bullish on markets like Latin America, speak volumes about the tremendous opportunities the region could offer to Pall.

Another key focus for Pall remains its life sciences segment. The company has high hopes from this segment, and is keen on growing it. This enthusiasm explains Pall's recent patent filing for a new technology that could enable implanting of bio-engineered grafts in patients during surgeries related to heart defects or during procedures such as hemodialysis. This could be a significant breakthrough for both the medical world and for the company.

The Foolish bottom line
Pall's filtration business is likely to remain robust if industrialization in emerging markets can continue rising (although we've seen some slowdown in growth recently). Also, the company's life sciences expansion should add further value to its business.

Pall's cost-reduction initiatives should further boost its profits. It could be worthwhile to keep track of Pall's moves. Simply add the stock to your Watchlist to stay updated on all its news and analysis.

At the time this article was published Neha Chamaria does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 3M. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in 3M. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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