Whether for research, analysis, discovery, or diagnostics, Thermo Fisher Scientific gets the laboratory ready to assist mankind. The company makes and distributes analytical instruments, equipment, and other laboratory supplies -- from chromatographs and spectrometers to Erlenmeyer flasks and fume hoods. It also provides specialty diagnostic testing products, as well as clinical analytical tools. Thermo Fisher serves more than 400,00 customers worldwide in its key markets of health care and diagnostics, biotech and pharmaceutical, academic, research institutions, and government, and industrial and applied settings, including environmental quality and process control. 


Laboratory Services, which provides just about everything needed to run a lab, generate 38% of Thermo Fisher's revenue. With about a quarter of revenue is the Life Sciences Solutions segment, which provides reagents, instruments and consumables used in biological and medical research, drug discovery and production and for vaccines and diagnosis. Analytical Instruments and Specialty Diagnostics account for 19% of revenue each.

Geographic Reach

Thermo Fisher gets about half of its sales in the US. With no country outside the US representing a double-digit percentage of sales, Thermo Fisher sees lots of room to grow internationally, and is aiming for a quarter of sales to come from emerging markets by 2016. Key countries include China (currently 7% of sales), India, South Korea, Brazil, and Russia. Supporting its global expansion efforts, in 2012 it opened a demonstration lab and training center in Seoul, as well as a manufacturing facility in China.

Sales and Marketing

Pitching Thermo Fisher's offerings is a team of direct sales personnel. The company also uses e-commerce, third-party distributors, and other channels. It ramped up marketing efforts in 2014 with a big increase in advertising spending. It spent $47.7 million in 2014, up from $33.2 million in 2013.

Financial Performance

Thermo Fisher reported robust increases in revenue and net income in 2014. Revenue jumped 29% higher to $16.9 billion in 2014 from $13.1 billion in 2013. The big revenue leap was in life sciences as the acquisition of Life Technologies fueled a sales increase of 489%. Sales in Laboratory Services rose 3.2%. Net income rose with the higher revenue. Cash flow from operation was 30% higher in 2014, rising to $2.62 billion from $2.0 billion in 2013. The increase was attributed to the increase in net income and changes in working capital.


While acquisitions continue to be a strong component in Thermo Fisher's growth strategy, the company also uses divestitures to keep its business focused. In 2014 it sold its cell culture, gene modulation, and magnetic beads businesses to  GE Healthcare for $1 billion. Later that year it sold Cole-Parmer Instrument Company to private equity firm  GTCR for $480 million. Cole-Parmer makes laboratory equipment under the brands Masterflex, Oakton, and Digi-Sense.

Thermo Fisher increased its investment in research and development in 2014, spending about $691 million compared to $396 million in 2013.

The company's customers are susceptible to market forces that might reduce their R&D spending. Pharmaceutical research could be affected by mergers and academic research could be affected by reduced federal spending for basic research.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Thermo Fisher in 2016 agreed to buy FEI Co. for $4.2 billion. FEI, which had $930 million in revenue in 2015, brings a complementary product mix of electron microscopes to Thermo Fisher's mass spectrometry products. The companies's boards of directors approved the deal, which is expected to wrap up in early 2017.

The FEI deal follows on the heels of Thermo Fisher's acquisition of Affymetrix in April 2016 for $1.1 billion. Affymetrix makes instruments used to analyze specimens at the cellular and genetic level.

In 2014 Thermo Fisher finalized a huge deal that will move it to the head of the pack in life sciences tools, particularly the growing field of genetic testing. It bought California-based  Life Technologies for about $13.6 billion, plus the assumption of debt. Life Technologies develops tools and systems for gene cloning, expression, and analysis.

The cash from making bread-and-butter laboratory equipment (beakers, microscope slides) is used to buy small, innovative companies that can benefit from Thermo Fisher's resources and drive the company's steady growth, especially in emerging markets.

In 2015,Thermo Fisher bought Alfa Aesar, a manufacturer of research chemicals, for $405 million in cash. The acquisition adds to Thermo Fisher's portfolio of chemicals, solvents and reagents. Also in 2015 Thermo Fisher bought Advanced Scientifics Inc., a provider of single-use technologies for customized bio-processing, for $300 million in cash. ASI’s product line helps Thermo Fisher meet customer demand in the bio-processing market. Both Alfa Aesar and ASI operate internationally, which helps Thermo Fisher's drive to increase overseas sales.

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