Deal-hungry Icon posts solid final quarter results

By Ben Adams

Icon ($ICLR) has seen strong growth in the fourth quarter as new acquisitions and partnerships helped shore up growth.

The Ireland-based CRO posted growth of 3.4% year-on-year to reach sales of $403.3 million for the last quarter--which works out as 8% growth at constant currency rates when fluctuations in the dollar are taken into account.

Income from operations in the final quarter increased by 24.7% to $73.3 million--or 18.7% of revenue, compared to $60.4 million or 15.5% for the same quarter last year.

Meanwhile, full-year revenue increased by 4.8% to $1.57 billion, or 10% at constant currency rates.

Full year income from operations increased by 33.3% to $281.5 million or 17.9% of revenue, compared with $211.1 million, or 14% of revenue in the previous year.

CEO Ciaran Murray said: "During 2015, our operational excellence and market-leading innovation helped our customers enhance the productivity of their development programs, further enhancing Icon's position as their trusted partner in drug development."

Murray added that for 2016, Icon is guiding revenue to be in the range of $1.67 billion to $1.73 billion--an increase of 6% to 9.8%, and earnings to be in the range of $4.60 to $4.80, representing an increase of 15.6% to 20.6%.

The Chicago-based Zacks investment firm said it was "impressed with Icon's significant year-over-year earnings growth, which was driven by higher sales and an improved operational performance."

The company said its recent partnerships with Genomics England and IBM Watson ($IBM), as well as the takeover of MediMedia Pharma Solutions and the buyout of PMG Research, will also "enhance the CRO's standing" this year.

"Tactical capital deployment and a strategic policy of increasing shareholder's value through buybacks are key positives. Additionally, the expanding margins are a major tailwind," it said in a note to investors.

- read the results

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