Danaher jumped from 13th to eighth on the Big 100 this year, largely on its purchase of the clinical microbiology business of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. The unit includes clinical lab, acute care and pathology diagnostics businesses. This latest purchase, however, is one in a long line of diagnostics growth through acquisitions for the conglomerate.
In 2004 Danaher acquired Radiometer and has shifted steadily toward diagnostics and the life sciences since then, acquiring Leica Microsystems in 2005, Vision Systems in 2006, Genetix in 2009, AB Sciex and Molecular Devices in 2010, Beckman Coulter in 2011, Iris International and Aperio Technologies in 2012, HemoCue in 2013 and Devicor Medical Products in 2014. Most recently, the company completed acquisitions of Cepheid, a molecular diagnostics firm, and Pall Corporation, which provides filtration, separation and purification technologies for a range of industries. Both of those acquisitions contributed significantly to the company’s recent performance.
At the same time, the firm has made changes to tighten its focus on life sciences and diagnostics, through divesting both communications and industrial technologies. In July 2015, Danaher sold its communications business to NetScout for $2.3 billion, and in July 2016, completed a spin-off of Fortive, the professional instrumentation and industrial technologies businesses.
Despite this activity, analysts have remained tepid on Danaher. The company has taken a lot of criticism because of its lack of organic growth. In its second quarter of 2017, Danaher reported total sales of $4.5 billion, an increase of 6.3% year over year. However, 6% of that growth is from acquisitions. Many industry watchers note that the move to focus on diagnostic and life sciences subsidiaries promises long-term sustainability.
The most recent earnings call for Q2, 2017 reported that the life sciences segment rose 4% year over year to about $1.4 billion. The sales growth of this segment is driven by a strong market for traction of mass spectrometers, microscopy, flow cytometry and genomics products. Impressive rise in the operating margin was driven by higher sales volumes and incremental year-over-year cost savings associated with restructuring actions.
The diagnostics segment is nearly equally as promising. Revenues at the diagnostics segment increased 14.5% year over year to $1.44 billion. Impressive performance of clinical business in China and robust performance of acute care diagnostic and pathology diagnostics business proved conducive to growth of this segment. However, operating margin at the segment contracted 760 basis points year over year, to 10.9%. The fall is attributed to higher costs associated with new product development and higher restructuring and impairment charges.
Still as of press time, Danaher is hovering in a low middle ground, having lost another 2.8% in shares in the month following Q2 earnings calls. This is a waiting game for analysts to see whether Danaher can metabolize its acquisitions to fuel energetic growth.