IQVIA Holdings (NYSE:IQV) reported its fourth-quarter and full-year results on Thursday.

The contract research organization giant continued to translate single-digit revenue growth into a double-digit gain in adjusted earnings. A strong book-to-bill ratio helped drive the company's backlog to over $17 billion at the end of the year and allowed management to provide upbeat guidance for 2019.

IQVIA Holdings Q4 results: The raw numbers


Q4 2018

Q4 2017

Change (YOY)


$2.69 billion

$2.52  billion 


Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization

$583 million

$526 million


Adjusted net income

$307 million

$261 million


Adjusted earnings per share




Data source: IQVIA Holdings. YOY = year over year.

What happened with IQVIA this quarter?

  • Revenue from technology and analytics solutions (TAS) rose 9% to $1.12 billion. Research and development solutions (R&DS) revenue grew 8% to $1.37 billion. Contract sales and medical solutions revenue continued to decline, by 11% to $193 million.
  • R&DS book-to-bill ratio was strong at 1.7 times for the quarter.
  • The strong net new business growth helped drive the R&DS backlog to over $17 billion at year-end. 
  • Stock buybacks totaled $604 million during the quarter. A new $2 billion buyback authorization was announced.

Zooming out to full-year 2018, here's an overview of the company's results:

  • Revenue grew 7% to $10.4 billion. This figure exceeded guidance
  • R&DS net new business jumped 29% to $5.85 billion.
  • Adjusted EBITDA rose 11% to $2.2 billion.
  • Adjusted net income went up 14% to $1.2 billion.
  • Adjusted EPS expanded 22% to $5.55.
  • Management funneled $1.4 billion into stock buybacks during the year. Shares outstanding dropped about 5% in response.
Scientist looking at microscope cancer research

Image source: Getty Images.

What management had to say

CEO Ari Bousbib called 2018 "a year of outstanding performance."

He was also excited to report that the synergies promised in the company's 2016 megamerger are starting to be realized:

Our clinical development team had another record quarter of contracted net new business, and our technology team continued to add impressive new client wins for our OCE SaaS platform. As we enter the third year of our merger integration, we are pleased to see the beginning of top-line acceleration in both our R&DS and TAS businesses.

Check out the latest IQVIA earnings call transcript.

Looking forward

Management expects that 2019 will be another year of steady growth for the business. However, it did say that unfavorable foreign exchange movements are expected to slow down the company's reported growth rate in the first quarter:

Metric Q1 2019 Forecast  Implied Growth at Midpoint
Revenue $2.63 billion to $2.68 billion 4.3%
Adjusted EBITDA $575 million to $590 million 6.5%
Adjusted EPS $1.48 to $1.53 12.6%

Data source: IQVIA Holdings. 

Even with those short-term headwinds, the company still expects to post solid adjusted earnings growth for the full year:

Metric 2019 Forecast  Implied Growth at Midpoint
Revenue $10.9 billion to $11.1 billion 6.9%
Adjusted EBITDA $2.375 billion to $2.425 billion 9%
Adjusted EPS $6.20 to $6.40 13.5%

Data source: IQVIA Holdings. 

IQVIA's stock was driven up, hitting an all-time high following the strong results and upbeat guidance. With double-digit growth on the horizon and numbers growth tailwinds in place, it isn't hard to figure out why Wall Street is excited about where this business is heading.