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Waters (WAT) Up 1.5% Since Earnings Report: Can It Continue?

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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for Waters Corporation (WAT - Free Report) . Shares have added about 1.5% in that time frame.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is WAT due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

Waters' (WAT - Free Report) Q1 Earnings Beat, Revenues Miss Estimates

Waters Corporation reported first-quarter 2018 non-GAAP earnings of $1.59 per share, which increased 8.9% on a year-over-year basis but declined 36.6% sequentially.

Net sales increased 6.6% year over year but decreased 22.7% sequentially to $531 million. The year-over-year growth was attributed to improved end-market results, especially in the pharmaceutical market. Moreover, robust performance of Waters and TA product line were also positive.

Top Line in Detail

Waters’ net sales figure can be categorized into four divisions:

By Operating Segment: The company operates in two organized segments – Waters and TA.

Waters segment (88.7% of net sales) witness $471.14 million of sales, up 6.2% from the year-ago quarter. Sales in TA segment came in $59.5 million and accounted for 11.2% of the net sales. The figure was up 9.1% year over year.

By Products & Services: This division is comprises three segments — Instruments, Services and Chemistry.

Instruments sales (45.2% of sales) came in $240.4 million, which was up 2% on a year-over-year basis.

Service sales (36.1% of the sales) were $191.5 million. The figure increased 10% year over year.

Chemistry sales (18.5% of the sales) came in $98.7 million, which was up 12% for the year-ago quarter.

Moreover, service and chemistry sections together generated recurring revenues of $290.2 million, which surged 10.9% year over year.

By Markets: The company serves three end markets — Pharmaceutical, Industrial and Governmental & Academic.

Pharmaceutical market (57.4% of net sales) generated sales of $305.3 million, up 9% on a year-over-year basis.

Industrial market (30.5% of sales) sales came in $162.3 million, which increased 1% from the year-ago quarter.

Governmental & Academic (11.9% of sales) generated $63.01 million of sales. The figure was up 11% year over year.

By Geography: This division includes regions like Asia, Americas and Europe.

Asia (37.7% of net sales) generated $200.3 million of sales for the company. The figure was up 3% on a year-over-year basis.

Americas (34.2% of sales) generated $181.7 million of sales, which was up 4% year over year.

Europe (28% of sales) generated $148.7 million of sales, which increased 16% from prior year quarter.

Operating Details

Non-GAAP selling and administrative expenses were $128.8 million, reflecting an increase of 6.18% year over year but decreased 13.4% from the previous quarter.

Research and development outlay for the quarter was $34.5 million, which was up 12.4% year over year but down 1.7% sequentially.

Adjusted operating margin was 27.5%, expanded 40 basis points (bps) but contracted 600 bps sequentially.

Balance Sheet & Cash Flow

As of Mar 31, 2018, cash, cash equivalents and investments came in $2.5 billion, which were lower than $3.4 billion as of Dec 31, 2017. Adjusted free cash flow came in $160 million.
Also, total liabilities were $2.4 billion that came down from $3.1 billion at the end of previous quarter.

Waters also announced a new share repurchase program. The new plans provisions an additional $526 million spending, which takes the totals the purchase authorization to $3.526 billion for a period of three years.


For 2018, Waters expects sales growth between 4% and 6% on a constant currency basis. With the currency translation, sales growth is expected in the range of 2-3%.

The company also revised its guidance for non-GAAP earnings in 2018 which are now anticipated to lie within the range of $8.10-$8.30 per share.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in fresh estimates. There have been five revisions lower for the current quarter.

Waters Corporation Price and Consensus

VGM Scores

At this time, WAT has a nice Growth Score of B, though it is lagging a lot on the momentum front with a D. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of D on the value side, putting it in the bottom 40% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of D. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

The company's stock is suitable solely for growth based on our styles scores.


Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Interestingly, WAT has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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