Problems come joined at the hip with opportunities. Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO 0.49%) has definitely found that to be the case with the COVID-19 pandemic. The company's growth has accelerated and its stock has soared over the last 12 months thanks primarily to coronavirus testing.

That momentum should remain intact after Thermo Fisher reported its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 results before the market opened on Monday. Here are the highlights from the company's Q4 update.

Scientists looking through microscopes.

Image Source: Getty Images.

By the numbers

Thermo Fisher Scientific reported revenue in the fourth quarter of $10.55 billion, representing a 54% year-over-year jump. This result handily beat the average analyst's revenue estimate of $9.58 billion.

The company announced fourth-quarter net income of $2.5 billion, or $6.24 per share, based on generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). In the prior-year period, Thermo Fisher's GAAP earnings totaled $1 billion, or $2.49 per share.

On a non-GAAP (adjusted) basis, Thermo Fisher's net income in the fourth quarter was $7.09 per share. This nearly doubled the adjusted earnings per share of $3.55 recorded in Q4 last year. It also blew past the consensus Wall Street estimate of $6.56.

Behind the numbers

The coronavirus pandemic was yet again the big story for Thermo Fisher Scientific in the fourth quarter. The company generated $3.2 billion in revenue related to its COVID-19 response efforts. 

Thermo Fisher's biggest moneymaker, its life sciences solutions segment, was also its fastest-growing business in the fourth quarter. The segment recorded revenue of $4.37 billion in Q4, up 138% year over year. The specialty diagnostics segment also enjoyed tremendous momentum, with revenue soaring 109% to $1.97 billion.

The company posted laboratory products and services segment revenue of $3.62 billion in the fourth quarter, a solid 28% increase over the total in the prior-year period. Analytical instruments segment revenue rose 8% year over year to $1.64 billion. 

Thermo Fisher also moved forward with other initiatives during Q4 that didn't impact its financial results but could boost growth in the future. The company formed a joint venture to set up a biological drug development and manufacturing facility in China. It also announced plans to make plasmid DNA for cell and gene therapies in California.

Looking ahead

Marc Casper, Thermo Fisher Scientific's chairman and CEO, said that 2020 was "the strongest year of performance in our company's history." Can the good times keep rolling for the healthcare stock? It seems likely.

Even with the increased availability of COVID-19 vaccines, the demand for testing will probably remain strong throughout this year. One of the key healthcare trends of 2021 will likely be the broader reopening of the economy. Thermo Fisher's rapid COVID-19 testing could be an important part of this effort.