QIAsymphony automation platform. Image source: Qiagen.

What: Qiagen (QGEN -0.65%) is up 13% at noon EDT today after the company reported solid second-quarter earnings and a commitment to return $300 million in capital to shareholders by the end of 2017.

So what: Sales were up 5% year over year, boosted by the continued launch of QuantiFERON latent tuberculosis test, which saw sales grow by more than 25% at constant currencies. A 5% increase isn't too shabby considering the growth would have been 1 percentage point higher at constant currencies and Qiagen faced a 2 percentage point headwind from falling HPV test sales in the U.S. Add those back in, and revenue from the core business is growing at 8% year over year.

In addition, the installations of Qiagen's QIAsymphony automation platform are paying off with increased sales of consumables used by the machines; consumables for infectious diseases, for example, increased by double-digit percentage at constant exchange rates. And Qiagen is on pace to place another 250 machines this year, bringing the cumulative total to 1,750.

However, adjusted earnings per share were down slightly, to $0.24 per share, compared to $0.26 per share in the year-ago quarter. The discrepancy in revenue growth and earnings decline came from increased spending on sales and marketing expenses, as well as increases in research and development costs. Both weren't unexpected, as management has said it plans to increase investments now to boost sales in future quarters.

Now what: For the third quarter, Qiagen is guiding for sales to increase 7% to 8% year over year, including a 1 percentage point impact from changes in currencies. Including a $0.01 per-share hit from currency changes, adjusted diluted earnings are expected to be $0.27 per share, which would be flat with the third quarter of 2015.

In April, management said that it planned to return $100 million of capital to shareholders through a share-repurchase plan but has now increased the goal to $300 million, with two-thirds of it coming by early 2017 and the remaining $100 million before the end of 2017.