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Agilent, LipoScience Sign Agreement

SI PHG GE A

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Agilent Technologies Inc. (A">A) will be supplying nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) components for LipoScience Inc.’s Vantera Clinical Analyzer by virtue of an agreement that the two signed recently.

The clinical analyzer is the first fully automatic diagnostic tool to be used exclusively in a clinical laboratory and cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  

LipoScience is a diagnostic company specializing in cardiovascular, metabolic and other diseases. Banking on the NMR technology, it has become a pioneer in the diagnostics segment. This new technique measures the blood sample of patients and informs the doctors and their patients about the risk of heart disease.

In addition, NMR is used in industrial processes to monitor the content and purity of the manufactured products. NMR-based testing is very useful as it studies the sample without destroying it.

In May 2010, Agilent’s acquisition of scientific-equipment maker Varian, Inc. opened new avenues in the field of NMR, MRI and X-ray. This acquisition helped Agilent to gain expertise in the field of magnetic resonance.

LipoScience wants to explore opportunities in clinical laboratories and academic institutions backed by Agilent’s expertise in NMR. The clearance from the FDA will prove to be a vital factor for the commercialization of the analyzer.

However, Agilent may face stiff competition from other NMR makers such as Siemens AG (SI - Analyst Report), General Electric Co. (GE - Analyst Report), Philips (PHG - Analyst Report) and others. However, Agilent will be able to counter the competition if it enters into more agreements in the future.

Agilent’s revenue in the third quarter was flat sequentially and up 1.9% year over year, short of management’s expectations of a 2-3% sequential increase ($1.77 billion to $1.79 billion). The Chemical Analysis segment generated 22.0% of third quarter revenue, down 8.8% sequentially and 7.0% year over year. The sequential decline was largely because of weakness in food testing, although chemical/energy was also down significantly and the forensics/environmental was flattish. All three markets fared similarly when compared with the year-ago quarter. The newly-added Diagnostics and Genomics segment accounted for 6% of revenue in the quarter.

Currently, Agilent Technologies Inc. has a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term ‘Hold’ rating.

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