Parexel plans more hires as it focuses on strategic players, biotech

A fast-growing Parexel International ($PRXL) boosted revenue for the six months that ended Dec. 31 and laid out plans to continue to ramp up its staff as it builds a broad international structure to support its clinical trial work. But in an odd twist on a long-term trend, the CRO is seeing a distinct shift in focus from Asia back to the U.S. and Europe.

"We hired aggressively in the second quarter," said CEO Josef von Rickenbach as he reviewed the numbers with analysts earlier in the week. The company's relationship with Pfizer ($PFE) and a focus on new strategic business is pushing Parexel to keep hiring, adding 440 people in the last quarter with plans to add a similar number of new staffers this quarter. The CRO expects to boost total employment to 11,300 in the short term.

"Asia continues to do well," said the CEO. "It's interesting, though, that the pattern of the new business we've enjoyed here over the last several quarters is relatively more heavily focused on the U.S. and Europe than was the case for a number of years. We'll probably see a relative acceleration in terms of those regions compared to other parts of the world."

The tougher regulatory environment in India may have helped drive business back to the West, though regulatory stability might help reverse that trend. For the six months that ended Dec. 31, consolidated service revenue was $647.9 million versus $600.2 million a year earlier, an increase of 8%.

Significantly, Rickenbach was also bullish about the requests for proposals Parexel's been picking up from the biotech sector. A rebound of funding in the fourth quarter of the year is leading him to feel that that particular trend should stay strong, with "no decline in RFPs from biotech."

- here's the press release