I'll bet investors in Agilent Technologies
Having recently sold its semiconductor products business to private equity investors and a 47% stake in Lumileds to Philips
The first quarter looks to have been a rather solid one for Agilent. Total revenue was up 10%, while orders climbed 15%. But assessing the net-income performance is complicated by gains and charges relating to the asset sales, planned spinoffs, and other assorted items. What's more, while the company provided an adjusted comparison -- earnings of $154 million versus $71 million -- the former number (this year's first quarter) excludes $36 million in stock compensation expense, and I'd argue that's a number just a little too big to ignore.
Performance among the units was a hodgepodge of good news and not-so-good news. While sales in the large-electronic-measurement business were up only slightly, income growth was strong, and the return on capital improved notably. Sales growth in bioanalytical measurement was a bit stronger, but the income growth was weaker, and the return on capital dropped a bit, though it was still at a very high level.
Even with rivals such as Tektronix
The biggest downside, though, is that none of this is really a surprise. Between announcing its restructuring and launching a sizable Dutch auction share repurchase, these shares have already had a heck of a run in the past year. Still, provided the company continues to produce such a high overall return on capital and generate ample free cash flow, the stock could continue to measure up for its owners.
For related measurement Foolishness:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).