Quest lowers outlook after Q3 profit drop

Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) took a 5.2% year-over-year hit to its third-quarter profits, pulling in $163 million and again lowering its annual revenue projections.

Quest's quarterly revenue came in at $1.9 billion, 2.9% below the previous year, and the company has scaled back its projected revenue growth to .5% for the year, down from between 1% and 2%. Earlier in the year, Quest had predicted growth of 2% to 2.5%.

Quest blames the decline in part on the roughly $44 million in restructuring charges it incurred in the quarter, but also on pricing pressures and a declining demand for diagnostic assays, as the company's clinical testing revenue dropped 2.1% in Q3.

But Quest is being proactive about its soft returns, announcing this month its plans to lay off up to 600 employees and restructure its operations. The job cuts will save $65 million by the end of 2013, the company says, and the entire effort is designed to trim $500 million from Quest's total expenses.

"Our new organizational structure and management team, announced last week, will allow us to drive operational excellence and improve our customer focus, which will, over time, enable us to restore growth," Quest CEO Steve Rusckowski said in a statement.

At the same time, Quest is looking to expand its capacity, buying the University of Massachusetts' clinical testing lab for an undisclosed sum, The Boston Globe reports. The deal allows Quest to move its Boston-area labs into the school's facility and sets the table for a future joint venture between the two.

- read Quest's statement
- check out the full Q3 results
- read the Globe story on Quest's UMass deal