Icon rides a revenue leap into another growth year

Icon CEO Ciaran Murray

CRO giant Icon ($ICLR) dialed up its fourth-quarter revenue on the way to a big year, forecasting another leap in 2015.

The Irish company grossed $390 million last quarter, a 13% jump, and posted full-year revenue of $1.5 billion, a 12.5% increase over 2013. Fourth-quarter profits grew 61% to about $54 million, while 2014 net income jumped 65% to $181.3 million.

Now Icon is expecting 2015 revenues to come in between 7% and 11% above last year's, expecting a high end of nearly $1.7 billion. And the CRO is guiding is earnings per share to come in at between $3.45 and $3.60, growth of 25% at the top of the range.

Those figures include Icon's most recent acquisition, MediMedia Pharma Solutions, a market-access firm for which the company just paid $120 million. And CEO Ciaran Murray said his company is poised to keep up the pace of M&A and internal investment to keep 2014's momentum rolling.

"This has enabled us to book $1.8 billion of new business, to grow our closing backlog by 16% to $3.6 billion and drive revenues by 13% to over $1.5 billion," Murray said in a statement. "By continuing to improve our operational performance and expand our margins we increased EPS by 62% to $2.87."

The company has been deepening its offerings over the past 12 months, unveiling service platforms that allow sponsors to monitor safety issues, keep tabs on sites and track and visualize efficacy trends all in real time. And Icon is in the midst of an expansion in its native Ireland, planning to hire 200 workers as it builds out a so-called innovation hub. The idea is to investigate new technologies and clinical trial processes that can improve how sponsors develop drugs, Icon said. That means pooling together data and working to help clinical trial personnel access that data faster, according to the CRO.

- read the results

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