Agilent's Santa Rosa group first-quarter sales dip

SANTA ROSA -- Agilent Technologies (NYSE: A) on Thursday reported fiscal first-quarter revenue for its Santa Rosa-based Electronic Measurement Group slipped 7 percent from a year before.

The group had revenues of $671 million for the quarter, ended Jan. 31, compared with $742 million for the first quarter of 2013, according to financial performance information Santa Clara-based company released after the closing bell of the New York exchange. Operating margin was 15 percent.

"We had the orders we wanted, but not the revenues," said group President Guy Sene.

Group orders were $699 million for the quarter, also 7 percent below those of a year ago.

Companywide, orders slipped 2 percent to $1.68 billion in the first quarter, and quarterly revenue remain unchanged from a year before at the same amount. Net income increased nearly 9 percent for the quarter to $195 million, or 58 cents a share.

Mr. Sene attributed the drop in his group's communications-equipment revenues in China to Chinese New Year celebrations, which caused disturbances in the business would and resulted in orders not being paid for.

"We'll get the business back in the next quarter," said Mr. Sene.

The group, scheduled to become an independent company called Keysight Technologies in November, saw its aerospace and defense sales slide about 27 percent over the last quarter, according to Mr. Sene.

"Comparison is difficult," he said. "Our last quarter volume was unusually high because of companies' hurrying to do business before [federal budget] sequestration shut things down. But even so, there is still a slowness to recover that we weren't expecting."

He was upbeat about Keysight. The new company that will start doing business under that name in August.

"Then all our profits will come to us, instead of going toward growing other segments of Agilent's business," he said.

Agilent's stock price was $60.08 at the end of trading Thursday, up one-fifth of a percentage point from the previous day. Trading after hours sent the price down nearly 6 percent, or by $3.51 a share, to $56.57.

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