Agilent More Than Meets Analyst Targets, Sets a Spin-Off Date; Shares Surge 5%

Measurement technology expert Agilent Technologies just reported fourth-quarter results, sending the stock more than 5% higher in after-hours trading.

Agilent's sales decreased 3% year over year, to $1.7 billion, in line with analyst expectations. On the bottom line, adjusted earnings fell 6%, to $0.81 per share. Analysts would have settled for EPS of $0.76. For the 2014 fiscal year, Agilent's new guidance ranges sit right in line with analyst targets.

The electronic measurements division saw sales falling 14% year over year. Chemical analysis operations increased sales by 4%, and life sciences with diagnostics jumped 8% higher.

The after-hours boost puts Agilent shares within pennies of multi-year highs. The stock has enjoyed a gradual rise since Agilent announced a plan to spin off its electronic measurements operations into a separate company, leaving the life sciences and chemical businesses to carry on the Agilent name separately.

The separation was announced without a firm date. In the fourth-quarter report, Agilent provided a target date for the first time. The separation should complete nearly a year from now, in early November of 2014. Preparations for the split added $5 million of one-time costs to this quarter, which were excluded from the non-GAAP earnings figure.

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