Products from Agilent Technologies have a measurable effect on the scientific world. A leading maker of scientific testing equipment, Agilent supplies a slew of analytical and measurement instruments, including oscilloscopes, gas and liquid chromatographs, mass spectrometers, vacuum pumps, anatomic pathology workflows, and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging systems. Its operations include products used in electronic test and measurement, life sciences, chemical analysis, and diagnostics and genomics. Agilent's customers include such global giants as Cisco, Dow Chemical, Merck, and Samsung. The company, which gets most of sales outside the US, spun off its electronic measurement business in late 2014.
Agilent's operating segments are determined by the markets it serves. Its largest segment, electronic measurement, accounts for about 40% of sales and includes instruments and systems used by developers of electronics equipment and microscopy products. This division was spun off in late 2014 as a separate company named Keysight Technologies.
The life sciences and diagnostics segment (about 35% of sales) provides lab automation and robotic systems, x-ray diffraction systems, liquid chromatography systems, and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry systems, as well as reagents, instruments, and other products used at the molecular level of clinic and life sciences research.
The chemical analysis segment (about a quarter of sales) includes gas chromatography (GC) systems, gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC-MS) systems, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments, atomic absorption (AA) instruments, and molecular spectroscopy instruments, among others.
The US remains Agilent's largest single geographic location, accounting for 30% of sales. China and Japan together account for about a quarter of sales. The rest of its international operations are located in Europe and Southeast Asia.
Agilent has manufacturing plants in Australia, China, Denmark, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Poland, Singapore, the UK, and the US.
Sales and Marketing
The company sells most of its products directly, although it also relies on resellers, distributors, e-commerce, and other channels to a lesser degree. It also has a pretty diverse customer base -- 46,000 customers for its life sciences and diagnostics business, 37,000 customers for its chemical analysis business, and 14,000 customers for electronic measurement products.
Being a leader has not spared the company from tough times, but it has made Agilent flexible enough to expand its operations, even while recovering from the effects of economic and industry downturns on sales and profits. In fiscal 2013 (ended October) Agilent's sales were $6.7 billion, down 1% over 2012. The slight decrease was due to a 13% drop in the electronic measurement business, offset by growth in the life sciences and diagnostics segment and chemical analysis divisions.
Agilent has only had one unprofitable year in the past decade (in 2009). In 2013 profits fell 37% to $724 million after it did not enjoy the same income tax benefit for deferred US federal taxes that it did in 2012. Despite the slight decrease in sales, the company invested more in R&D in 2013, which contributed to increased expenses.
Along those same lines, cash flow from operating activities also dipped slightly in 2013 to $1.15 billion, down from $1.2 billion in 2012 due to taxes.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Agilent makes acquisitions both large and small to grow its product portfolio and expand its footprint into new geographic regions. In 2014 it added electrothermal analysis technology to the lineup with the purchase of HeatWave software from California-based Gradient Design Automation. (Electrothermal analysis technology allows designers to identify and correct thermal problems during IC development.) Looking to grow its footprint in the Mexican analytical market, in 2013 it bought assets from Agilent distributor ABC Instrumentation Analitica (ABCIA).
In 2012 the company completed the largest deal in its history, the $2.1 billion purchase of Dako, a Danish maker of cancer diagnostic tools. The acquisition is part of Agilent's strategy to build its presence in the life sciences sector with complementary research products while growing its base of recurring revenues.
Also that year Agilent boosted its Asian semiconductor device modeling capabilities when it bought Beijing-based modeling and validation software company Accelicon Technologies. Later that year Agilent bought the wireless test portfolio of Spanish wireless communications testing services provider AT4 wireless, whose other businesses -- testing and certification services and IT services -- were not part of the purchase.
Along with its frequent acquisitions, Agilent also remains nimble through divestitures. In late 2014 it spun off its electronic measurement business as Keysight Technologies -- in a move that reduced its exposure to the cyclical electronic measurement industry.
In the meantime, Agilent has continued to invest about 10% of its revenue in research and development. The company spent more than $700 million in 2013 on R&D to develop new products or make product improvements.