Quest Diagnostics (NYSE:DGX) reported a deteriorating financial performance when it announced its fourth-quarter results in February. Revenue fell by 1.4% year over year while earnings dropped by 49.5%. 

The company announced its first-quarter results before the market opened on Tuesday. This time around, Quest had good news for investors. Here are the highlights from the diagnostic information services company's first-quarter update.

Scientist holding a vial of blood

Image source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Quest Diagnostics' top-line performance improved in the first quarter. Revenue increased 0.4% year over year to $1.89 billion. Analysts estimated that the company's revenue for the first quarter would come in at $1.87 billion. 

The company announced GAAP net income of $164 million, or $1.20 per share, in the first quarter. This represented a 5.4% decrease from $177 million, or $1.27 per share, reported in the same quarter of 2018.

On a non-GAAP adjusted basis, Quest Diagnostics' net income in the first quarter was $190 million, or $1.40 per share. This reflected a 7.9% decrease from the prior-year period's adjusted net income of $211 million, or $1.52 per share. Wall Street analysts estimated that Quest would post earnings of $1.49 per share in the quarter.

Behind the numbers

It was music to investors' ears when Quest released its quarterly update Tuesday morning after the company's disappointing Q4 performance. Why was the company's revenue better than expected? CEO Steve Rusckowski said that there has been "solid volume growth from our expanded health-plan access."

Quest was able to deliver better-than-expected earnings in part from its higher revenue. The company also controlled its costs effectively -- operating expenses increased by only 1.92% year over year to $1.64 billion.

Looking ahead

Quest expects that revenue for full-year 2019 will be between $7.6 billion and $7.75 billion. The company anticipates GAAP EPS to be greater than $5.16, with adjusted non-GAAP EPS greater than $6.40.

Rusckowski also expects the rest of 2019 to be a continued year of growth: "We look forward to continued progress as a member of UnitedHealthcare's Preferred Lab Network beginning July 1. We continue to drive productivity to address ongoing reimbursement pressure, and are well positioned to meet our financial commitments for the remainder of 2019."