Agilent Technologies' CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Aug.15.11 | About: Agilent Technologies (A)

Agilent Technologies (NYSE:A)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

August 15, 2011 4:30 pm ET

Executives

William Sullivan - Chief Executive Officer, President, Executive Director and Member of Executive Committee

Alicia Rodriguez -

Michael McMullen - Senior Vice President and President of Chemical Analysis Group

Nicolas Roelofs - Senior Vice President and President of Life Sciences Group

Ronald Nersesian - Senior Vice President and President of Electronic Measurement Group

Didier Hirsch - Chief Financial Officer, Principal Accounting Officer and Senior Vice President

Analysts

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

Jonathan Groberg - Macquarie Research

Tycho Peterson - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Paul Knight - Credit Agricole Securities (NYSE:USA) Inc.

Isaac Ro - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Doug Schenkel - Cowen and Company, LLC

William Stein - Crédit Suisse AG

Jon Wood - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

D. Mark Douglass - Longbow Research LLC

Unknown Analyst -

Charles Butler - Barclays Capital

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Third Quarter 2011 Agilent Technologies Inc. Earnings Conference Call. My name is Stacey, and I'll be your conference moderator for today. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded for replay purposes. I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today, to Ms. Alicia Rodriguez, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please proceed.

Alicia Rodriguez

Thank you, Stacey, and welcome, everyone, to Agilent's Third Quarter Conference Call for Fiscal Year 2011. With me are Agilent's President and CEO, Bill Sullivan; as well as Senior Vice President and CFO, Didier Hirsch. Bill will give his perspective on the quarter, and Didier will follow with a view of financial results. After Didier's comments, we will open the line for questions.

Joining in our Q&A will be the Presidents of Agilent's Electronic Measurement, Life Sciences and Chemical Analysis Groups: Ron Nersesian, Nick Roelofs and Mike McMullen.

In case you've not had a chance to review our press release, you can find it on our website at www.investor.agilent.com. We are also providing further information to supplement today's discussion. At our website, please click on the link for supporting materials. There, you will find information, such as revenue breakout, historical financial for Agilent's operations and an investor presentation. We will also pose a copy of the prepared remarks following this call.

If during this conference call we use any non-GAAP financial measures, you will find on our website the most directly comparable GAAP financial metrics. We will make forward-looking statements about the future financial performance of the company. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, and are only valid as of today. The company assumes no obligation to update them throughout the current quarter. Please look at the company's most recent SEC filings for a more complete picture of the risks and other factors that work.

And now, let me turn the call over to Bill.

William Sullivan

Thanks, Alicia, and hello, everyone. Agilent's Q3 revenues were $1.69 billion, up 21% year-over-year on a non-GAAP basis. Q3 orders were also $1.69 billion, up 30% over last year. Overall financial results were excellent. Non-GAAP EPS was $0.77 per share, while adjusted operating margin of 20.2% was the highest in Agilent's history.

The Electronic Measurement business continues to be excellent. Q3 revenues of $856 million were up 24% over last year. All regions achieved double-digit growth. Quarterly operating margin of 24% was a record high for the business.

Communications revenues were up 33% year-over-year. We saw strong test demand for wireless manufacture, driven by smartphones, 3G and LTE network rollouts, while wireless R&D was relatively flat.

Although wireless manufacturing growth of 80% in the quarter lowered our overall gross margins, we still produced an incremental operating margin of 47%. We will continue to pursue mobile handset manufacturing opportunities, while positioning electronics measurement to continue meeting its incremental targets.

General-purpose revenues were up 19%, with growth driven by industrial, computer and semiconductor submarkets. Digital test was particularly strong, driven by new, high-speed digital interfaces.

Aerospace and defense was unfavorably impacted by recent U.S. budget concerns. However, aerospace and defense outside the Americas, which accounts for roughly 35% of that business continues to see solid growth.

Market acceptance for our oscilloscope product offerings continues to be excellent. We've also had strong response to the introduction of our PNA-X network analyzer.

Life Sciences business revenues of $453 million were up 21% over a year ago, up 18% organically. We saw solid growth across all regions, with particular strength in China and the rest of Asia Pacific. While there continues to be market uncertainty in the U.S. and European pharmaceutical industry, we have good momentum driven by the replacement cycle for lab instrumentation.

In academic and government, we continue to do an excellent job of identifying opportunities, where our solutions are true differentiators for leading researchers.

The Life Science group launched several new Mass Spec products in Q3. These include the 6550 iFunnel Q-TOF, the highest performing Q-TOF in the market and the 6420 Triple Quad, our entry level Triple Quad product.

Our Mass Spec platform continues to perform exceptionally well, as a result of the solid portfolio and positioning. All key product platforms, as well as services demonstrated double-digit revenue growth.

The Chemical Analysis business saw revenue growth of 17% to $383 million, up 11% organically. Chemical Analysis continues to outpace the markets with particular strength in the United States, China and Southeast Asia. Operating margins continue to expand, up nearly 2 points from the previous quarter to 21%.

We saw continued growth in core end markets. Energy, chemical and food markets remain strong across geographies, while the environmental market is particularly strong in China. Services also saw double-digit revenue growth. Our gas-based business had excellent results, with orders and revenues for both GC and GC/MS up by double digits from a year ago. We introduced our new GC/MS Q-TOF at ASMS in Denver. This is the first newly developed Agilent instrument that incorporate Agilent pumps.

Overall, Agilent is in a strong financial position, as we navigate through a challenging global economy. Our third quarter earnings, combined with solid asset management, enabled us to generate $252 million of operating cash flow. We ended the quarter with net cash of $1 billion.

As we have noted previously, we'll continue to accumulate cash and have sufficient liquidity in this uncertain economic times. This enables us to be in the position to pursue value creating acquisitions.

Despite ongoing challenges in the global economy, we are pleased with our results and our momentum. We continue to aggressively allocate resources on market opportunities, with particular emphasis on developing countries, wireless manufacturing, non-U.S. aerospace and defense, academic and research, energy and food. We look forward to a strong finish in fiscal 2011.

For the fourth quarter, we expect revenues in the range of $1.74 billion to $1.76 billion. Non-GAAP earnings are expected to be in the range of $0.79 to $0.81 per share.

Thank you for being on the call. Now I'll turn it over to Didier.

Didier Hirsch

Thank you, Bill, and hello, everyone. I'll start by providing some additional color on our third quarter results, and then comment on our outlook for Q4 and the fiscal year. As in prior calls, all of my comments will refer to non-GAAP figures. References to organic results are results without the impact of acquisitions within the past 12 months. Now starting with Q3 results.

As Bill mentioned, we are pleased with Agilent's third quarter results, as both revenues and EPS were significantly higher than the top end of our guidance and the consensus estimate. Orders of $1.69 billion were up 13% from one year ago or 11% on an organic basis, including 4 percentage points related to currency. Organically, EMG orders grew 12%, LSG orders 11% and CAG 9%.

The regional distribution of the 7% organic order growth at constant currency is as follows: Americas grew 7%; Europe, 3%; Japan, 10%; and the rest of Asia Pacific, 9%. Revenues of $1.69 billion were up 21% from one year ago or 19% on an organic basis, including 5 percentage points related to currency.

Organically, EMG revenues grew 24%; LSG, 18%; and CAG, 11%.

The regional distribution of the 14% organic revenue growth at constant currency is as follows: Americas grew 17%; Europe was down 1%; Japan, up 20%; and the rest of Asia Pacific, up 23%. China revenue growth continues at a significant base, 47%, and China revenues represent 17.5% of Agilent worldwide revenue.

Now moving to the income statement. While currency impacted each -- P&L line, it had minor bottom line impact, the result of our broad geographic diversification and systematic hedging. This quarter, we reached the milestone and exited 20% operating margin for the first time in our history, as we continue to adhere strictly to our operating model.

Operating margin of 22.2% was up 92 basis points from last quarter and up 220 basis points year-over-year.

Our strength in the very competitive wireless manufacturing market had a negative impact on our gross margin, but was more than offset by well-contained operating expenses. Also, as previously indicated, we are delivering significant operating expenses reduction as we complete the Varian integration, whereas cost of sales synergies will much realize mostly over the next 2 years.

Non-GAAP net income of $276 million or $0.77 per share compares to $191 million and $0.54 per share one year ago, an increase of 43% year-over-year.

Now turning to the cash flow and our net cash position. Total quarterly cash generated from operations was $252 million, an increase of $162 million compared to the same period last year.

During the quarter, we received $95 million from employee start programs and repurchased $192 million worth of shares, for a net share buyback of $97 million. Our net cash position at the end of July was $1 billion, an increase of $116 million from one quarter ago and $734 million higher than Q3 last year.

Now turning to the guidance for the fiscal year and for Q4. Given our sound Q3 performance and reflecting Agilent's strong competitive position, we are raising our revenue and EPS guidance for the year. At midpoint, our revenue guidance is up $70 million and our EPS guidance is up $0.05. We now expect fiscal year '11 revenues of $6.64 billion to $6.66 billion, which at the midpoint of the range, represents 22% year-over-year revenue growth or 17% growth on an organic basis. This implies Q4 revenues of $1.74 billion to $1.76 billion. At the midpoint of the range, Q4 year-over-year revenue growth will be 11%.

Consistent with our 30% to 40% year-over-year incremental operating margin commitment, we are also raising our EPS guidance to $2.90 to $2.92, based on 357 million diluted shares and no change in the tax rate. At the midpoint guidance, EPS will grow by 46% year-over-year. This corresponds to Q4 EPS projections of $0.79 to $0.81. The midpoint of our Q4 EPS guidance corresponds to year-over-year EPS growth of 23%. We are also raising our operating cash flow projections to $1.1 billion, up $50 million from previous guidance. Capital expenditures for the year are still projected to be approximately $200 million, hence, free cash flow is projected to be $900 million.

With that, I'll turn it over to Alicia for the Q&A.

Alicia Rodriguez

Thank you, Didier. Operator, will you please provide the instructions for the Q&A.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from the line of Ross Muken with Deutsche Bank.

Unknown Analyst -

This is Mike in for Ross. So obviously, things in the world have changed a little bit over the last few weeks and since the Analyst Day when you guys gave, just some of the sensitivity analysis. Can you talk a little bit more about in terms of the way you see the broad macro-factors and how that correlates to the sensitivity analysis you provided at the Analyst Day?

William Sullivan

So first, order, the sensitivity analysis that you referred to in the Analyst Day has not fundamentally changed. We had the most probable growth rate of 8%, with 1 sigma point ranging from 4% to 12%. Clearly, there's a lot of economic uncertainty. Overall, and again, you'll see this on our website, the overall market growth rate that we're seeing is clearly going to be down 1 point as it stands today, with all of the caveats, and anything can change tomorrow. What's interesting in this environment though is that we have some hot opportunities, as I mentioned in my prepared remarks. The developing world continues to be quite robust. We continue to do very, very well. The cell phone manufacturing continues to kick in the high gear. And again, with 80% growth that Ron's organization demonstrated, our big numbers can help drive some growth. Likewise, the digital continues to be doing well. We continue to do well in pharma, even on the uncertainty. And of course on the chemical side, we're doing an outstanding job in the environmental area and food safety, and of course, petrochemical. So it's a mixed bag out there. Assuming that there is not a financial crisis or a lack of liquidity, if companies are able to reallocate their resources quickly, and that's exactly what each of the 3 group presidents are doing right now, there appears to be business out there, and customers are buying the best measurement solution if you can find those customers first.

Unknown Analyst -

Great. And then just broadly on the EMG side. Organic growth came in very strong for the quarter. Can you just talk a little bit more broadly about the competitive dynamics there? Obviously, heading into the quarter, a lot of noise with other sort of players in the space kind of -- just give us a sense of what you're seeing and more importantly, how you guys shape up from a share gain perspective?

William Sullivan

Yes. Again, I'll have Ron add some color commentary. As you know, we never really talk about share. I will let you guys sort it out, even though I'm always somewhat amused on some of the comments that are made. But nonetheless, I'll have Ron give you an overview on how well we did in the quarter.

Ronald Nersesian

Yes. Mike, as Bill has mentioned, we had 80% growth in wireless manufacturing. So we continue to do a very good job of going ahead and winning business that is not only good for revenue, but is also good for the bottom line or strategic interest. As you can see, our gross margins went down slightly because of that, but we did a great job of turning in a 47% incremental, above our commitment of 40%. But outside of the wireless manufacturing market, I'll point out one other, our oscilloscope market. Our oscilloscope revenue growth, it was 60%, 6-0 percent growth this past quarter. And a matter of fact, for the past year, it has averaged 60%. And we saw a great growth from the high end of the product line right down on through the bottom. So we have some very competitive products in multiple segments, and that, along with our good operating policies and our operating expenses, produced the highest operating margin in the history of EMG for any quarter.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Doug Schenkel with Cowen and Company.

Doug Schenkel - Cowen and Company, LLC

Earlier in the year, you suggested that if there was a period that where you -- it was probably 2013, not 2012. I believe, in part, you attributed this 2012 being an election year. Given what's gone on over the last month or so, has you're thinking changed at all? Or is this still a good rule of thumb?

William Sullivan

Yes. I have Didier make a comment, as our sales, as we make sale for every corporation in the America and the world, we're having this debate. We did not foresee the fiasco in Washington, likewise the continued sovereign debt problem inside of Europe. If you look at the difference in the rhetoric, and what has happened versus the environment, companies are sitting on a lot of money. Demand is still there, people are again continuing to make investments into developing markets. And so borrowing a substantive cutback in government spending in Europe or the U.S. or Japan, there's still not a lot of hard evidence of something substantively different. I personally believe that the day of reckoning is going to come -- get down government spending is going to come down, which is going to put a negative impact on demand, and hence that was the comment referring to '13. Didier?

Didier Hirsch

Yes. I mean I will second that. I mean certainly at Agilent we are neither Mr. Sunshine nor Mr. Doom and Gloom. The odds for a softer recovery have increased in the -- slightly in the last few months. But at the end of the day, our baseline scenario is still that the economy will go through the same bumpy and slow recovery, we've identified like a few months ago, but with worldwide GDP growth in 2012 growing over 4% at purchasing and power pricing.

Doug Schenkel - Cowen and Company, LLC

Okay. And in terms of just looking at book-to-bill. In EMG and in Life Sciences, book-to-bill went slightly below 1 for the first quarter, a little while. Although, it still looks very robust. Is this at all a function of changes of demand patterns? Or for the most part, it's just a function of bringing up additional capacity in what is typically a seasonally weaker quarter?

William Sullivan

Yes. So first of all, a lot of it in EMG was we have a huge backlog, so it's actually encouraging, quite pleased that the orders are strong as they were on the Life Science side, and again, Nick can make a comment, or Ron, regarding EMG. We did see some funny order pattern at the end of the quarter during the debate in Washington regarding the budget. The order pattern in August has returned to normal. And back to August, it's starting off okay. Early, we tend to be back-end loaded on orders. But if you believe the computer projections, August looks okay. So hopefully, what we saw in the U.S. and on the LSG side was just related to the debate in Washington.

Nicolas Roelofs

This is Nick. I just have one other comment, which is Bill characterized the order side very clearly. I'm going to make one comment. We in LSG have been continuing to improve our operational capabilities. So we've built a lot of book-to-bill over the last several quarters. Our facility now in Penang is doing well for NMR facility in Singapore fully engaged from Aspack [ph]. And so you are seeing also some efficiency in catching up that backlog on top of that unusual couple of weeks of order pattern.

Ronald Nersesian

And in EMG, we've see the growth of backlog over a couple of hundred million dollars during this past year, and we've been working hard to bring that down. So we put some invested capital in to expand our capabilities. And we're very happy with our 0.98 book-to-bill. Matter of fact, we could have had a book-to-bill of 1, if we had 22% revenue growth. But as you know, we were very successful of delivering an extra couple of points of growth of revenue.

Doug Schenkel - Cowen and Company, LLC

That's great. And if I could sneak in just one follow-up for Nick. Sometimes there's a slowdown in advance of a new instrument launch or multiple new instrument launches, was there anything that you saw in terms of lumpiness that you would attribute to the new Mass Spec launches in the quarter? And any related impact on 1290 pull-through?

Nicolas Roelofs

Yes. Well, let's see. In terms of products, I think we have continued to launch new products every year. 1290 is over a year old now. So I don't think there was any if you will delay in orders in anticipating of products that was abnormal because it's already built in the annual baseline. And we are real pleased with those launches. What we really saw was a very U.S. centric nervousness around grant money and spend right at the end of our quarter. And as Bill said, pretty early right now for August, but we're not worried at the moment in terms of the way things look.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Tony Butler with Barclays Capital.

Charles Butler - Barclays Capital

Nick, if I could stay on LSG just for a minute and ask about BioPharma replacement cycles, strong in Q2, and I just want to understand if they remain strong throughout this quarter. You mentioned that in the prepared remarks, it's in the slides, but just want to get a pharma understanding. And then segue into the weakness that occurred at the very end. I just assumed was the academic and government market, which Bill is saying has rebounded somewhat I guess, in August. Is that clear? And then finally, one for Didier. And it's around capital deployment, if I may. Didier, if you could on -- given the strong cash flow, and I realize there's a statement made about not necessarily buying back stock, but there's a real question about what you want to do with the cash, and I know you've been thinking about some acquisitions, if they're available in the marketplace, but we're concerned they may not be. And again, any commentary you'd have about what you really want to do with that extra $1 billion?

Nicolas Roelofs

Tony, I'll start with might. First of the questions, in regard to pharma, BioPharma, we are seeing that technology upgrade trend. It still seems to be relatively robust. Remember, we look at this on a global therapeutic basis, so we did see some first world change as people watch this economic situation, but nothing that I would attribute to a real rate change. And we feel a lot of power in that replacement and technology upgrade cycle coming. So we're pretty comfortable with where the Pharma/Biotech is on a global basis at the moment. Your second question was in regard to the academics. Yes, it was -- as I said, there was clearly a very U.S. primary question about what would happen, lots of speculation on granting cycles. But I think it's sort of natural nervousness. And right now, we're hoping to continue to see the momentum for August. There's not a lot of detail yet, and obviously, there's some question as to what we'll get cut. I would make one extra comment, which is remember that we are sitting on a secular, fairly strong trend globally in academic and government, with a cyclical stimulus trend writing on top of it. We were naturally coming to the end of that cyclical stimulus trend, and we, Agilent, have not been a heavy participant in that stimulus portion. So we, Agilent, have opportunity in market share. We're under-penetrated in academic government globally. And we're not too concerned about whatever inflection may be occurring on the stimulus cyclic because that was already built in or discounted in our view of the numbers.

Didier Hirsch

And Tony, this is Didier. Regarding your last question, yes, we are seeing our cash go up, and pretty happy about it. It's unfolding as for our scenario. Hopefully, we will see in the next year or 2 more value creating opportunities in acquisitions that we have seen in the last 6, 9 months, and that will be a nice ways of utilizing our cash resources. Right now, we are very satisfied with having such significant cash cushion and more strategic asset for potential acquisition, if the opportunity arises.

William Sullivan

In addition to that, we hope that Washington can come to the conclusion that repatriation of international cash back in the United States will be a good thing for the country. And as you know, a substantial part of our cash continues to be overseas.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Mark Douglass with Longbow Research.

D. Mark Douglass - Longbow Research LLC

Didier, can you go -- looking into the fourth quarter kind of what are the puts and takes that you're looking for as far as the segments, maybe kind of organic growth rates and then maybe what you're kind of expecting on the incrementals or operating profit margins, again?

Didier Hirsch

Yes. In the fourth quarter, first, everything is going to be organic. There will be probably some currency impact, perhaps 3 percentage points less than the -- based on the actual rates as of the end of July. And then in terms of the segments, the breakdown, at midpoint, it looks something like $850 million, $860 million for EMG at the segment level, plus, minus $10 million. And $410 million for CAG, at the segment level. And then $490 million for LSG at the segment level. And the other operating profit incrementals are in a way, I mean, you can compute them from the guidance that we have given you. But it is going to be higher than what we have seen in Q3, and very much towards the end of the high end of our guidance of 30% to 40%.

D. Mark Douglass - Longbow Research LLC

Okay. So you're not really expecting a significant bump in margins in either one -- either segment, up or down kind of similar to what we saw in 3Q?

Didier Hirsch

No. No, the margin would be about -- the gross margin, I'm talking -- the operating margins again, do the math on the basis of our guidance we've provided, it's going to go up from the 20.2%, but in terms of gross margin, it's around the same level.

D. Mark Douglass - Longbow Research LLC

Okay. I guess I'm just kind of curious what are we going to see. Can you talk about 2-year timeframe on the synergies with the Varian. Do we see anything kind of pull forward of significance in the fourth quarter? Or are we still really going to see a lot of this more in 2012 and then '13?

Didier Hirsch

Yes, it's more 2012, 2013. I mean the important thing is that all the action that we needed to take to generate those cost synergies have been taken in terms of manufacturing, rationalization, whether it's on the RPD, an earmark of product lines or spectroscopy or in services or in consumables. So all that has been triggered already. So now, we need to have the timeline. As we expected, I mean we had talked about reaching a 55% gross margin in Varian from the 45% over a period of 4 years, and we exactly -- this is unfolding as per the plan.

William Sullivan

As we have said, we are in the process of not only moving the manufacturing in the lower cost countries and the announcements that we have made, but we are going to redesign every major platform inside of the old Varian product lines. The reason we do that is that we do not want to have those product lines pull down our growth rate. We believe with redesigned products that investment we're making, not only will we get the cost out, but we will also get the growth rate higher than what they have historically seen. And now that's really where you're going to get the big leverage over the next 2 years.

D. Mark Douglass - Longbow Research LLC

Okay. Then my last question is for Ron. Go into some of the details on 4G, little more. In the presentation, you say that you're better positioned in 4G than you were in 3G, why? More applications, broader product range, customer base, is it different for you this time around? Can you just flesh that out a little bit?

Ronald Nersesian

Sure. We started a lot earlier on 4G than we did in 3G. We had an early R&D program, where we worked with some of the market makers to help develop the test standards, and we've actually even written books on LTE that have been used in the industry. And by starting early, we've been able to embed ourselves, and we've offered more products with LTE. We have over 15 different product types that served the LTE market one way or the other. So that's it. We've also been very selective to -- in where we invest to make sure that we invest in the areas that in general have higher margins, so we can deliver the operating profit incrementals that we've committed, the 40%, and that's why you continue to see us exceed those numbers quarter-after-quarter.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Tycho Peterson with JPMorgan.

Tycho Peterson - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Maybe just first question on pricing. I'm wondering how you're thinking about pricing in this environment. We've seen some of your peers, in particular, on the life science side, pushed immediate price increases. So can you talk to that? And then can you also talk to input costs and how you're managing the input costs versus some of the commodities that have risen pretty quickly?

William Sullivan

We have a very aggressive policy in terms of working with our vendors and our suppliers to ensure the most competitive pricing. There's enormous amount of focus in the R&D community to design products that are targeted manufacturing goals. We continue to manage pricing through our sales organizations very, very strictly. Each of the 3 group presidents have complete control over the pricing. The pricing is very, very key, moving forward. And because we have such a strong manufacturing capability, it gives us a lot of latitude on what deals that we would like to take or not. And so first, the order, I think if you look at it from our perspective, if anything, our gross margin should continue to improve given all the efforts I described, and also coupled in the work they were doing with the old Varian product lines. And so what will happen is more of a mix change. For example, the manufacturing test for cell phones inherently has a little bit worse gross margins than standard R&D product, as an example. So the first order will be the mix across our businesses that would have any detrimental gross margin impact and we are absolutely committed to offset that with increased focus on lowering our manufacturing cost.

Tycho Peterson - JP Morgan Chase & Co

And then maybe if we could just spend a second on some of the geographic color you highlighted, Europe, down 1%. What's your outlook there going forward? And then as a follow-up, Japan, up 20%. Was that all replacement business post the issues in March? Or how far are we through to that process?

William Sullivan

Yes. It's not the best way to answer your question because we have such a mix of businesses going through. So I'm just not going to give a high level, I'll just give my view, I think Europe, as the U.S. is going to be a difficult environment moving forward. However, there are pockets of opportunities. In a moment I'll just ask each of the 3 group presidents to make a comment on the geographical outlook moving forward. In terms of Japan, overall, our team in Japan continues to just do an outstanding job. And we have been able to react very, very quickly to the opportunities that are there. Japan is recovering from the earthquake far faster than what people had predicted. And our team in Japan has done an outstanding job. So Ron, won't you have a couple of comments, and then I'll turn it over to Mike and Nick?

Ronald Nersesian

All right. I think the first thing is taking a look at how much of our business comes from Asia/Japan. And if you look in this last quarter, it was 44% of revenue and 48% of orders. So as you can see, we're very, very strong in Asia, and we have very strong market share. As a matter fact, stronger than in some other areas. In particular, China continues to be a very, very strong market for us and that grew 59% during the last quarter, and Japan grew 37%. So digital products in particular are very strong in Japan, as well as some wireless products, not only for their end markets, but as they sell into China, through China's expansion. So our investment for a long period of time in Asia is paying off.

William Sullivan

Mike?

Michael McMullen

Sure, Bill. Maybe I'll start with Europe. As Bill described it, overall, I'd say a difficult economic environment as we all know. But there are pockets of opportunities that we have and we'll continue to exploit. I would really point to 2 things. One is our new portfolio in the area of spectroscopy. We have fairly significant market share opportunities that we're aggressively pursuing. But I'll also point to some of the numbers you saw are announced in around the services in the aftermarket. So very strong double-digit growth in the services in Europe, as well as continuing penetration in the aftermarket, the consumable side. So there are some real -- great opportunities were capitalized in the services side and aftermarket on the consumer side in Europe as well. And then pointing to Japan, I think the Chemical Analysis Group for FY '11 again is a services story, so really outstanding growth in our services area. And we actually think that FY '12, we're almost starting to see the real movement up in terms of the new instrumentation purchases as the country deals with some of its challenges, both in terms of new testing capability they want to deploy, plus, as you know, replacement of depleted instrumentation.

Nicolas Roelofs

And Tycho, I'll kind of close out sort of with the same form factor. Europe, as you heard, we had double-digit growth, and even organically, we had pretty solid single-digit growth for the life science group in Europe. So now, from an overall macro, it seems to be reasonably strong. If you look under the covers, government academic spending is still pretty decent. There's been a lot of nervousness, but they've been pretty decent in what they're putting in. And we obviously have penetration opportunity, so pharma guys are also about where they were. They're pretty low growth, but about where they were for European pharma. Japan as a specific, I'll kind of echo what Mike said, I don't think we've seen even the beginning tip of all of their infrastructural rebuild that's coming from what needs to be put back in. So the Japanese have some stimulus money. They've recently made some announcements about potentially redeploying some of that, but we haven't really started to see the beginning of infrastructural rebuild for life science. So we think there's some real opportunity in Japan, both in the academic sector and in the pharma sector, and we had solid double digit there. So we're pretty comfortable with the next few quarters there.

Tycho Peterson - JP Morgan Chase & Co

Great. And then just one last quick one for either Bill or Didier. Can you just -- I know the bulk of your cash is OUS, but can you just tell us how much of your cash is in the U.S. that you can use for repurchases? And I think, Bill, you've also used the term sufficient liquidity. I'm just wondering if you can clarify what you meant there.

Didier Hirsch

Again, most of the cash is outside of the U.S., but on an ongoing basis, we generate about 15% to 20% of the cash we generate is in the U.S. So at the present time, most of it is outside the U.S., but we'll have ongoing sources of cash. And then I think I have mentioned in the Analyst Meeting, towards the end of calendar year '12 and also in 2013, we expect to be able to bring back more cash, tax effectively. But again, that's the end of 2012.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Jon Wood with Jefferies & Company.

Jon Wood - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

So Bill, I know you didn't specifically comment on fiscal year '12 at this point. My question is around the operating model, and you guys kind of laid out pretty clearly at the Analyst Day that the midpoint of your operating model, the most probable case being about 8% organic growth for the company. And I think that was based on a kind of a global GDP outlook of somewhere around 4%. My question is why at this point wouldn't you plan for '12 to be at the negative -- or the 1 standard deviation event in terms -- the lower 1 standard deviation event, given what we're kind of seeing in the macro? Do you have a view on where you will shake out for fiscal year '12 in terms of the planning process at this point?

William Sullivan

When we make our Q4 earnings announcements, we will give our guidance for '12. We are forecasting right now that we will have a greater than 1 book-to-bill in Q4. And if that happens, we will have more momentum going into '12, and what you suggest. I know the signal-to-noise ratio is incredible high right now, but there is no hard data that there is going to be a substantive deterioration for the model that we had shared. And as I pointed out, we have -- a few of our industries are actually quite robust even in this uncertain economic times. As you know, in the capital equipment market, this could turn south instantaneously, but in the whole key, I believe will be -- well the order momentum in Q4 will be greater than 1, as planned. And if that's the case, then I think we'll be entering into '12 in a stronger position than the newspapers would suggest.

Jon Wood - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Okay, great. The last follow-up is on the Asia business ex Japan. I think Didier said it was 9% organic on the order side for Asia ex Japan. So wondering, it seems like your businesses have a ton of momentum in the Asian markets. Just a comment around what kind of factors you saw in the order book in Asia outside Japan in the third quarter, please.

Didier Hirsch

Yes. I mean overall, I mean certainly China was as strong as it's been for some time. And then there was some lower than average, obviously, to get to that average of 9% on constant currency. The results in some of the countries, Southeast Asia, a little bit, Korea a little bit, Taiwan, little bit, China was extremely strong.

William Sullivan

Well the China growth at 47%, we are going to blow through our most optimistic forecast in China. And that’s really is a story. India continues to do well, Southeast Asia, of course, has always been strong for us. But the real story is our continued success in China.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Jon Groberg with Macquarie Capital.

Jonathan Groberg - Macquarie Research

Just a couple of clarification questions at this point. On the handset manufacturing, was that purely a mix issue? It sounded like in the prepared comments, you mentioned very competitive environment as well. So I just want to make it sure if there's a little bit of pricing in there as well? Or if it was just purely the mix issue?

Ronald Nersesian

It was in the handset -- in the handset manufacturing business, we have different products for different customers. It was a mix because we won a very big strategic deal out of a very, very prominent customer. And we still managed to obviously deliver 47% incremental, and win strategic accounts that will benefit Agilent for a very long period of time.

Jonathan Groberg - Macquarie Research

So you couple the mix with an 80% growth mathematically just deteriorated the gross margins by a point? And Ron, where are we in the whole kind of all the manufacturers getting up to speed for 4G manufacturing? It seemed like 2G and 3G goes through this big builds and then it plateaus, where are we in that process?

Ronald Nersesian

Very, very early. On the handset side, we're really starting to ramp up on the base station side. So base stations or the infrastructure roll out first. And we're starting to see that come up, as you'll see all the operators put in their systems or their base stations throughout the world. So the base stations are hot and heavy, handsets are a small fraction of the overall market. We just saw last quarter for the first time that 3G outpaced 2G for handsets on actual unit sales. And it's going to be a long time before 4G outpaces 3G.

Jonathan Groberg - Macquarie Research

Okay. And then last question, Bill. I know someone touched on a little bit earlier on the M&A front, but if you look in the life sciences side and if you look at consumable businesses, which is where you guys have a lot less exposure at this point. Some of those companies are trading at multiples they've never seen previously because of their concern around government in academic spending. I guess, what's your appetite for looking at those types of deals in this environment?

William Sullivan

As you know, I noted in the past that some of the valuations were through the roof, and we would not make an acquisition that we couldn't bring value to our shareholders moving forward. Actually, under this environment right now, our opportunity has actually increased on opportunities that we think that we can create value for the company, so that's one of the reasons. We want to make sure we keep our powder dry so to speak, and be in a position to capitalize on these uncertain environments. So if anything, I think there are more opportunities today than even there was 3 months ago.

Jonathan Groberg - Macquarie Research

And would you issue stocks to do a deal, Bill?

William Sullivan

Given our credit rating, again, Didier can comment, most likely, we would borrow the money to do it. Obviously, depending on the size of the deal, we could issue stock. We have no lack of stock in our treasury. But most likely, we would either pay cash or raise debt depending on where the location of the acquired company was.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of William Stein with Crédit Suisse.

William Stein - Crédit Suisse AG

Can you talk a little bit about the success in the handset test in the quarter? Was that driven by a PXI system initiative? Or is this more of your traditional product? And is it 3G or 4G? And either comments about what's driving this resurgence, is it kind of regaining share that you might have not seen in the last couple of years? Or it's just a new level of demand from existing customers?

William Sullivan

We'll I'm going to make a editorial comment, and let Ron give you that. There's no resurgence, we've never lost the market share. We've always been the major player, irregardless of some other rhetoric some people may say. We have always been a leader in the manufacturing test in the cell phone. And so, I'll let Ron share with you the details.

Ronald Nersesian

Unfortunately, because of the arrangements and literally the agreements we have with our customers, we're not allowed to share the names of our top customers and what they purchased. I'll say is it's a competitive market. We've been in there. We've been managed to win a large portion of the business and deliver $200 million in operating profit to the bottom line.

William Stein - Crédit Suisse AG

Okay. Let me try something else then. Bill, you talked a little bit about how they're -- I'm using my own words, but maybe some perturbations in the order trends throughout the quarter, in particular at the end, it might have normalized in August. Can you may be dig into that a little bit by -- if we can get it by segment, that would be great, but kind of the way things progress throughout the quarter and how they are kind of in the last couple of weeks would be very helpful.

William Sullivan

Yes. And so again, just to have some background, we have one financial system for our company. Orders, revenue and backlog are sent on iPhones, BlackBerries daily to the top executives in the company. And we have a computer system that projects likely order outcome. So we have a very, very automated system to manage this company. So for Chemical Analysis and Electronic Measurement, the order pattern was normal. And as Nick referred to, the Life Science, we did see some issues at the end of the quarter. The rest of the company predicted pretty much as is, and we essentially had a 1:1 book-to-bill ratio. If you take the computer projections of the first 2 weeks of August, the growth momentum in orders is continuous as forecasted. Again, capital equipment, this can go south in a hurry, but starting off the month based on the orders that have come in the system, the computer, obviously, has historical database, and it calculates the probability of outcome, and we are right in our forecasted range.

Operator

[Operator Instructions] Your next question comes from the line of Isaac Ro with Goldman Sachs.

Isaac Ro - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

First off on Life Sciences, just wondering if we go back to the Analyst Meeting earlier this year, I feel so comfortable with that long-term guidance for 10% organic growth in Life Sciences. And if so, could you maybe lend some color around the strategy there, given your comments on the 2012 and '13 outlook for funding?

William Sullivan

Again, I'll make a comment. The company has not taken any different positions than what we had shared with you in the Analyst Day in New York. I'll have Nick talk about what he's doing and what his view is to the outlook of the market.

Nicolas Roelofs

Isaac, just kind of reiterate what I said and condense my previous comments. First of all, the secular fundamentals in our perspective haven't changed. The cyclical stimulus fundamentals were known and are known now and also don't look much different. So the real question is the nervousness that appeared to be in the customer base in July. And as Bill told you, right now, with very little data, in August, it looks like that nervousness is being calmed a bit. We still have a lot of questions. Remember that the United States is a big economy when it comes to academic government spending and a big driver of pharmaceutical dollar profitability. And so there's a lot of nervousness as to what will happen with the special budget committee. But right now, looks like the immediate cliff was avoided, but worried about during the last couple of weeks of July.

Isaac Ro - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Great. And then just secondly on the communications business, could you may be comment a little bit on your visibility in the 3G testing, specifically emerging markets. I gather there's a fair amount of the upside potential and then really contrast that with what your network operators are seeing on their CapEx plans for 4G?

Ronald Nersesian

We not only benefit from selling equipment into the actual manufacturing process for 2G and for 3G. But we also benefit whenever anyone does an upgrade from one generation of technology to another. So for instance, some people that were manufacturing 2G phones when they move to 3G, they buy software, very high gross margin. So one of the previous questions that came up with regard to gross margins, with our mix of shift from hardware to software, where we have more and more software is a big benefit. So we are seeing continued purchasing of hardware, and we're also seeing software upgrade business around the world. So we're right in the thick of it for smartphones, as well as standardized phones, which were not only made in China, that have been shipped off obviously to Thailand and other locations around the world. And you just see that continuing evolution in the market. But we're in it for 2G, for 3G and for 4G.

Isaac Ro - Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Great. And if I could, one last one, just broadly, the growth in China is certainly impressive relative to what we're seeing elsewhere in the industry this quarter, could you maybe comment on how broadly based it was across your major end markets? And then where there any major onetime orders for us to keep in mind as we model next year?

William Sullivan

Our performance in China continues to be broad-based. We have a great team in China. We have, of course as you know, Hewlett-Packard was the first high-tech joint venture in China, which was essentially what Agilent was when Packard made that relationship. And we just have a very, very solid team. We have sales offices in every major city, great infrastructure, support, manufacturing, R&D and so again, I think we are very, very well positioned to be the #1 measurement solutions provider in China.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Richard Eastman with Robert W. Baird.

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

Just a couple of questions. For Nick and Mike, this may be disclosed somewhere in one of the disclosures, but what was the quarter incremental margin, EBIT margin in the business, in each of your businesses for the quarter?

Michael McMullen

Do you want to go Nick or...

Nicolas Roelofs

Go ahead Mike.

Michael McMullen

Okay. Didier -- I'm inaccurate here, but we had about almost a 2-point increase in what I call the operating margin percentage. Hopefully we're using the same language here, Richard, but that was 20.6% operating margin for the Chemical Analysis business.

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

But on the incremental as reported, it's a little bit low. But I presumed that there's some restructuring plus 2 on Varian. So I'm wondering about the core business -- the core incremental.

Michael McMullen

Yes. Richard, I don't have that in front of me. Didier, could you make some comments on that?

Didier Hirsch

Globally, for LS and CA, the core, year-over-year incremental excluding the Varian impact was a little bit under what we had shot for, with some various mix impact. And then as I have mentioned earlier, going forward, we expect the incrementals in Q4 to be more in line with our cyclical growth rate. I want to make sure that when the incremental can be pretty [indiscernible]. I mean it can be fairly volatile from one quarter to the next one. There could have been some adjustments from bookings in the previous year that could affect the year-over-year incrementals on a quarterly basis. I wouldn't look at incrementals on a quarterly basis. I would look at them over a little bit longer period of time. They could be a little bit volatile. Again for reasons that one year ago, there could have been some special instances where operating margins were higher than the average or whatever. So just a word of caution.

Michael McMullen

And just before I bounce it over to Nick, just to build on to Didier's comment, I mean you don't want to dig too deep into one quarter, but we did see in CAG the actual gross margin start to move up in the quarter by almost 0.5 point. And as Bill mentioned earlier and Didier as well, we're doing a number of foundational steps to really continue to see improvement in there, including a major announcement in June of this year about a transfer of spectroscopy manufacturing activities to our hub in Penang.

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

Okay. And then could you give us the China growth for your segment as well in the quarter?

Didier Hirsch

I can. Bill and I -- I mean talked about that, the 47% that we talked about is fairly the same, yes. So really EMG is close to 50%, LSG is close to 40% and CAG is also close to 50 a little bit over percent. So very, very much similar growth throughout for the 3 segments on a year-over-year basis.

Ronald Nersesian

Okay. And the 59% for EMG that we stated earlier was for order growth. Yes, I'm talking revenue.

Richard Eastman - Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated

Okay. All right. And then maybe just the last question for Ron, in aero defense, was it implied that, that business was in total was up or down in the quarter?

Ronald Nersesian

In total, the business was down 2%. So it was relatively flat within 2%. As Bill had mentioned, 35% of that business is overseas, and that helped counteract some of the U.S. issues. The good news is that last year that business was a little bit slow with all the continuing resolutions and the confusions. So it's set in a little bit of a lower level on a compare basis than some other times.

Operator

Your last question comes from the line of Paul Knight with CLSA.

Paul Knight - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc.

I have a couple questions. One, which would be your NIH exposure. Do you think it's 2.5, 5. I mean, most firms kind of plug in the 5 to 10 range. That's question 1. And then the second question would be, world worries about '09, and does that get repeated in 2012 in a bad economy. What tour so things would you highlight are much more different now? What have you sold that people should kind of worry less about, as we look up into '12?

William Sullivan

Sure. I'm going to answer the second question, and then I'm going to give you my editorial comment in the NIH, and let Nick close out on his view on this. So right now, there's no comparison to 2009, where there is this terrible credit crisis and people couldn't get money. Could that happen again? I guess it could, but this is far different because right now, people that have a credit issue, the people who can print paper, right? And so it's no comparison whatsoever. The second message is, is that Agilent is a fundamentally different company. In Electronic Measurement, we fundamentally resize the market. Just look at the performance this quarter. We are a much, much different company. We continue to do exceedingly well in 40% of the world economy that's outside of the U.S., Europe and Japan moving forward. And finally, we just have great product portfolios across each of the 3 businesses, and we believe that we're providing superior measurement solutions to our customers moving forward. So again, much, much different environment in 2009. And again, we are absolutely committed to deliver our incremental profits. And what's interesting, if I was going to put a plug in the economic uncertainty, we have enormous potential to drive more incremental margins as we continue to improve our manufacturing costs, cost of sales and control our expenses very, very tightly. Truth of NIH, we do not look at it that way. We tend to look at the overall economic academic and research market as half of this $18 billion life science market. And we look at it. And again, we come from a smaller position, but we say, where can we provide the best solutions for the big research institutions around the world? In the last 3 years, we have gone from 3% of the company's business in academic and research, life science, to 8% this last quarter. That's dramatic. And that's what Ron's business in EMG increasing by over $1 billion in that period of time. So for us, we need to find where the money is being spent, and we've got to deliver the best solution. And given our relatively small market share in this space, Nick's team has done an outstanding job providing those solutions in coordination with our central research lab under Darlene Solomon. Nick?

Nicolas Roelofs

So I'm just going to echo a couple of Bill's comments, then add a little extra color. So first, I think Bill hit the highlight. Not only are we under-penetrated, but we've got value products in there. So whatever we do in academic government, which is the way we think about, we've got a lot of momentum. Second comment is just to give you a feel, a little over 3% of Agilent's academic government exposure is U.S.-based. So if you think about direct NIH, it's miniscule of the NIH campuses. If you think about total NIH through funded, it's still in the 1-ish percent range, because there's a lot of private research funding and other grant and legacy type funding that goes into academics through endowment. So 3% is the total Agilent U.S. academic and government exposure, where we think about it. So it's a very small piece. And last comment is NIH is moving a lot of money into sectors that were well positioned with the translational research. So even if their budgets go flat, it hit slightly, we're not very exposed. In a true draconian problem for them, we still have a limited exposure.

Paul Knight - Credit Agricole Securities (USA) Inc.

And last, in '09, we were just seeing 3G licenses being led in China, that's my understanding. And where are we in that cycle? I guess, the build out continues to be still early days?

Ronald Nersesian

Yes, it's still early days. And obviously, there's the traditional WCDMA technologies in China, as well as their own stand, which is TD-SCDMA. And again we have solutions for both of those products, and as we see more and more TD-SCDMA or WCDMA technologies being adopted, we're in good position. I know everybody has a forecast on what we'll win, I'll let that to you, and we've basically covered both bases.

Operator

And at this time, I'd like to turn the call back over to Ms. Rodriguez for closing remarks.

Alicia Rodriguez

Thank you, Stacey. I'd like to thank everybody for joining us on behalf of the management team on our call today. Certainly, if you have any questions please give us a call at Investor Relations, and I wish you all a good rest of the day. Thank you.

Operator

We thank you for your participation in today's conference. This does conclude your presentation. You may now disconnect and have a great day.

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