Why Agilent Technologies Inc. Shares Surged

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 Agilent Technologies  -- a provider of bio-analytic tests and electronic measurement solutions to the life sciences, communications, and electronics industry -- jumped as much as 10% after its fourth-quarter earnings results topped Wall Street's expectations.

So what: For the quarter, Agilent reported a 3% decline in revenue to $1.72 billion, hurt by its electronics segment where sales fell 14% year-over-year. Its adjusted profit fell as well to $0.81 per share from $0.86 in the year prior. Despite results that were weaker than last year, both figures still managed to top Wall Street's expectations, which had called for $0.76 in EPS on $1.71 billion in sales. Looking toward the next fiscal year, Agilent provided a forecast which calls for $6.95 billion to $7.15 billion in sales and EPS of $3.03-$3.33, more or less in line with the current consensus estimate.

Now what: I refer to Agilent as a perfect tug-of-war candidate because there are so many catalysts on paper that should send this company higher, but an equal amount of real-world obstacles that are holding it back. On one hand, any sort of bio-analytic testing in the health care industry should see a big demand spike as baby boomers age and as Obamacare rolls out. Conversely, though, federal budget cuts are putting a strain on domestic diagnostic spending, which could very well stymie Agilent's growth for the next couple of years. For now, I'm sticking to the sidelines, but Agilent is a company that I would certainly encourage you to add to your watchlist.

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The article Why Agilent Technologies Inc. Shares Surged originally appeared on Fool.com.

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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