Waters Shares Popped: What You Need to Know

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Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of life sciences equipment provider Waters (NYS: WAT) are jumping out of their petri dishes and rocketing higher by as much as 10% earlier today following the company's fourth-quarter earnings results.

So what: Thanks to the addition of new life sciences products and not relying on U.S. government and university funding, Waters was able to handily surpass Wall Street's consensus estimates. For the quarter, Waters reported a profit $1.56 while sales rose 8% to $521.4 million. This compares favorably to the $1.50 in profit and $516.9 million that analysts had been looking for. Waters also provided first-quarter and full-year 2012 guidance that came in just slightly below what Wall Street had been expecting and noted that sales would be less robust in the coming fiscal year.

Now what: Waters' beat is great for the other big names in the life sciences instrumentation sector, but its disappointing forecast for 2012 indicates that growth is expected to slow in the U.S. and Japan. Everyone has been so busy focusing on U.S. government and university spending that they failed to notice that the worldwide economy is beginning to slow to a crawl. While I'm not overwhelmingly against owning Waters here, I also don't think there's a lot of value left to unlock in the stock with it already trading north of 16 times forward earnings, and I think you could do better looking elsewhere after today's pop.

Craving more input? Start by adding Waters to your free and personalized watchlist so you can keep up on the latest news with the company.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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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