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Fitch revises Agilent outlook to 'positive'

Mon, 05/24/2010 - 5:10am
The Associated Press

Fitch Ratings raised its outlook for Agilent Technologies Inc. to "Positive" from "Stable" and affirmed several other ratings for the scientific instrument maker.

Fitch said it affirmed its investment grade BBB ratings for the Santa Clara, Calif., company's issuer default rating, senior unsecured revolving credit facility and senior unsecured notes. The ratings company said it has greater confidence in Agilent's operating and financial profile. The ratings affect $3.2 billion in debt.

"The company's increasing percentage of organic sales from the faster growing and more profitable Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis segments should drive higher and less uneven operating performance over time," Fitch said in a statement issued Friday.

Fitch also said it believes the company will return to "historically high levels" of profitability in the near term, driven by fixed cost reductions and solid revenue growth in each company business.

Agilent said last week it earned $108 million, or 31 cents per share, in its fiscal second quarter after recording a $101-million loss in the same quarter last year. Revenue rose 17 percent, to $1.27 billion.

Agilent completed a $1.5 billion purchase of rival Varian Inc. earlier this month and said it will gain about 8 cents per share in profit from the deal for this year.

Fitch said it anticipates that the deal will add to Agilent's stability over the long term.

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