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Agilent Technologies is my Top Pick, this portfolio manager says

Strong organic growth and great potential for inorganic expansion are among the reasons for investors to get on board with Agilent Technologies (Agilent Technologies Stock Quote, Charts, News, Analysts, Financials NYSE:A). That’s according to portfolio manager James Telfser who just named Agilent one of his top picks for the 12 months ahead.

California-based Agilent, an original equipment manufacturer of test and measurement products, has seen its share price rally nicely in recent months, taking back some of the ground lost when the stock started nose-diving in September 2021. Agilent zoomed ahead during the first year and a half of the pandemic, effectively doubling between early 2020 and mid-2021. But this year has seen some ups and downs for the $46 billion market cap stock, which is currently down about three per cent year-to-date.

But Telfser sees lots more upside from here, particularly since the company’s products — instruments, software and services — support some key sectors like the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.

“They really help the pharmaceutical industry, the energy industry, the chemical industry, and as you can imagine, right now with green energy looking at hydrogen and looking at all of these different chemicals — not to mention the pharmaceutical industry with all these interesting advancements in genomics — there’s all sorts of demand for Agilent’s products right now,” said Telfser, partner and portfolio manager at Aventine Investment Counsel, speaking on a BNN Bloomberg segment on Thursday.

“It’s in our US dividend fund. We got involved with Agilent during the pandemic because we thought this was one of those really big winners that was going to come out of this in a much stronger position,” he said.

This week, Agilent reported its fourth quarter and fiscal 2022 results, showing full-year revenue up eight per cent to $6.85 billion and non-GAAP net income of $1.565 billion for EPS of $5.22 per share, up 20 per cent on 2021’s numbers. For the Q4, Agilent’s revenue was up 11 per cent from a year earlier to $1.85 billion, with its Life Sciences and Applied Markets segment leading the way with year-over-year growth of $1.12 billion.

Telfser pointed to management’s outlook, which included a projection of five to six per cent organic growth going forward, while the company also has the ability to grow through M&A.

“One of the one of the interesting things about Agilent is they have a very underutilized balance sheet and so there are a lot of small companies that they can acquire and tuck into their into their business,” he said. “We think it’s just a matter of time before they flex that that balance sheet to buy some of these assets.”

“There’s a small dividend and it has been growing. The share price has been responding really well over the last year or so to the strong operating results,” Telfser said.

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