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Earnings Beat for ABAX, Sluggish Overall

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Provider of portable blood analysis systems for human and veterinary patient-care, Abaxis Inc. (ABAX - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter fiscal 2013 earnings per share (“EPS”) of 30 cents, a beat of 3 cents over the Zacks Consensus Estimate. The result also sailed past the year-ago EPS by 42.8%.

Considering a $17.5 million gain from the company's litigation settlement in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, the annual EPS was pegged at $1.23, compared with the year-ago 58 cents. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for EPS in fiscal 2013 was 80 cents.

Revenues soared 17% year over year to $50 million, although missing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $51 million in the quarter. For the full year, revenues came in at $186 million, recording annualized growth of 19% and ahead of the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a million.

Quarter in Detail

On a geographic basis, revenues from North America (accounting for 84% of total revenues) were up 18% to $41.9 million, while revenues from the international market (representing 16%) climbed 10% to $8.1 million. Even amid a challenging macroeconomic scenario in Spain and Italy, international growth came as an encouragement for the company.

According to ABAX, this was primarily on the back of growth in its higher margin consumable sales that represented 72% of the total revenue in the reported quarter.

Within the customer group, Veterinary market revenues witnessed a significant upside of 25% on a year-over-year basis to $42.9 million, while sales in the Medical market declined 18% year over year to roughly $6.3 million. Excluding sales to the U.S. government, worldwide Medical sales decreased 20% year over year to $5.7 million.

The overall disappointing performance in the medical business during the quarter was primarily due to the transition from a direct sales model to a distribution model with Abbott Laboratories (ABT - Free Report) . However, sales from the Other customer group declined 2.8% year over year to approximately $758 million.

Total consumable sales increased 16% from the prior-year quarter, while instrumental sales increased 8% on a year-over-year basis. Sales of medical and veterinary reagent discs surged 14% to $27 million in the fourth quarter. Total medical and veterinary instrument unit sales improved 13% to 1,485 units. Moreover, service revenues from Abaxis Veterinary Reference Laboratories (AVRL) maintained its growth momentum and recorded sales of $1.8 million, up 31% on a sequential basis.


Despite a 12% increase in the fourth-quarter gross profit to $26.2 million, gross margin contracted 230 basis points (bps) to 52.5%. The decline was attributed to lower ASPs on medical products sold to Abbott and higher sales of other low-margin products.

The company recorded higher research and development expenses (up 2.5% to $3.2 million) and sales and marketing (up 1% to $11.3 million) expenditure and general and administrative expenses (up 3.2% to $2.7 million) on a year-over-year basis. Despite the increase in operating expenses (up 1.5% to $17.2 million), income from operations surged 39.5% to $8.9 million, leading to a significant 292 bps expansion in operating margin to 17.9%.

Abaxis exited the fiscal with cash and cash equivalents and short-term investments of roughly $78.3 million, up from $67.5 million at the end of fiscal 2012.

Our Take

In spite of number of positives including quarterly and fiscal earnings beat, we are not so encouraged with quarter’s result of Abaxis, which seems quite sluggish. The difficult economic conditions in Europe are still taking a toll on the company’s international performance.

In addition, the distribution relationship with Abbott is yet to bring fruitful outcomes. Besides, we are wary about the company's increasing reliance on distributors to boost sales and the competitive landscape with larger players. However, we believe that Abaxis serves a niche market and is well poised to maintain its growth momentum.

Abaxis carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Medical products companies such as Cyberonics Inc. , and Health Net Inc. , which carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) are worth considering.

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