Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO 1.03%) shares skyrocketed 45% in 2019. The company didn't deliver awe-inspiring revenue and earnings growth. However, investors liked the steps that Thermo Fisher took to pave the way for future growth.

But were investors as thrilled after Thermo Fisher announced its fiscal 2019 fourth-quarter and full-year results before the market opened on Thursday? Here are the highlights from the company's Q4 update.

Two Thermo Fisher Scientific employees standing next to lab equipment

Image Source: Thermo Fisher Scientific.

By the numbers

Thermo Fisher Scientific reported fourth-quarter revenue of $6.83 billion. This reflected a 5% increase from the prior-year period revenue total of $6.51 billion. It also topped the consensus Wall Street Q4 revenue estimate of $6.78 billion.

The company announced net income of $1 billion, or $2.49 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This result was a significant improvement over the GAAP net income of $898 million, or $2.22 per share, posted in the same period in 2018. 

Thermo Fisher's adjusted net income in the fourth quarter was $3.55 per share, compared to adjusted earnings of $3.25 per share in the prior-year period. It also narrowly beat the analysts' average adjusted earnings estimate of $3.54 per share.

Behind the numbers

The company's biggest moneymaker, its laboratory products and services segment, delivered revenue of $2.83 billion in Q4, up 9% year over year. The segment's adjusted operating margin also increased to 13.8% from 13.1% in the prior-year period.

Thermo Fisher's life sciences solutions segment's Q4 revenue rose 8% year over year to $1.84 billion. Its adjusted operating margin increased by 0.7% from the same quarter in 2018 to 37.5%.

Analytical instruments segment revenue in the fourth quarter slipped a little, from $1.57 billion in the year-ago period to $1.52 billion in the latest quarter. Its adjusted operating margin also declined to 26% from 26.6%.

Thermo Fisher's smallest unit, its specialty diagnostics segment, delivered Q4 revenue of $0.94 billion, down slightly from the $0.95 billion reported in the fourth quarter of 2018 due to the sale of the company's anatomical pathology business. The segment's adjusted operating margin also slid to 23.7% from 24.5%. 

Looking ahead

The company stated in its Q4 conference call that it expects full-year 2020 revenue between $26.61 billion and $27.01 billion -- up 4% to 6% year over year. Thermo Fisher looks for adjusted earnings per share of $13.49 to $13.67, an increase of 9% to 11% over its 2019 result. 

However, some healthcare stocks, especially those with exposure to the Chinese market like Thermo Fisher, could face headwinds this year from the coronavirus outbreak that originated in China and has spread to the U.S. and other countries. Thermo Fisher said that its full-year 2020 guidance doesn't include any potential impact from the viral epidemic.