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Waters Corp beats Q4 sales estimates on strong demand for drug development services

(Reuters) - Waters Corp on Tuesday reported fourth-quarter sales ahead of Wall Street estimates, helped by demand for its services used in drug development.

The lab equipment and software maker reported fourth-quarter sales of $819.5 million, beating analysts' estimates of $815.03 million, according to LSEG data.

The company supplies lab equipment and technology for scientists across the world, with the majority of its revenue coming in from biopharma clients which use its tools for research and drug development.

During the quarter, sales in its instruments unit decreased 14% to $397.20 million, while its services sales rose 9% to $278.89 million.

The company said sales in its key operating region China declined 40% in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier.

Rising interest rates have squeezed funding for drug development programs among small biotech firms, especially in China, weighing on demand for contract research services for over a year.

Larger peer Thermo Fisher Scientific forecast annual profit and revenue below Wall Street estimates on Wednesday and said it does not expect demand from China to improve this year.

Waters reported an adjusted profit of $3.62 per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with analysts' estimates of $3.55 per share.

For the full year, the Massachusetts-based company sees 2024 adjusted profit to be in the range of $11.75 to $12.05, compared with analysts' estimates of $11.98 per share.

Contribution from its acquisition of peer Wyatt Technology covering the first four and a half months of the year is expected to increase full-year reported sales growth by 1.3%, the company said.

(Reporting by Sriparna Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shweta Agarwal)