Charles River's turnaround pays off with a strong 2013

Charles River Laboratories ($CRL) has pulled off a sweeping reorganization over the past few years, and the effort returned the preclinical CRO to revenue growth in 2013, setting the stage for another jump this year.

The company's full-year net sales came in at about $1.2 billion, a 3.2% increase over 2012, when revenue fell 1.1% to about $1.1 billion. Charles River's huge preclinical services operation led the way in 2013, growing 5.5% to $424.4 million on the year, while its research models segment increased 1.7% to $695.1 million. Full-year profits came in at $105.4 million, a 3.2% rise over 2012.

"Over the past several years, we focused on targeted initiatives that were designed to position Charles River as the preferred provider for early-stage drug development," CEO James Foster said in a statement. "...The benefit of these initiatives, and our willingness to structure strategic partnerships designed to meet the individual needs of our clients, is enabling us to win market share and drive sales and earnings growth."

Now, the company is expecting revenue growth of between 3% and 5% for 2014, setting the high end of its projections at nearly $1.3 billion while expecting earnings per share to come in anywhere from $3 to $3.10.

And Charles River is counting on more preclinical growth to deliver on those goals, hoping to ride some momentum from its early-stage business. In the fourth quarter, while research models stayed about flat, the CRO's preclinical segment leapt 8% to $117 million, which the company credits to a spike in demand from mid-tier biotechs and continued interest from large drugmakers.

- read the results