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Becton, Dickinson and Company (NYSE:BDX) is slated to report third-quarter fiscal 2012 results before trading opens on August 2. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for the quarter is $1.53, representing an estimated year-over-year decrease of 1.29%.

Second-Quarter Recap

Becton Dickinson reported second-quarter fiscal 2012 earnings of $1.38 per share, matching the Zacks Consensus Estimate and the year-ago earnings per share. Total revenues increased 3.6% year over year (4.6% in constant currency) to $1,991 million, higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,942 million.

Net income for the fourth quarter dropped 6.7% year over year to roughly $291 million (or $1.39 a share).

Domestic sales for the quarter amounted to $848 million, up 2.2% year over year. Overseas revenues were $1,143 million, up 4.6% (or 6.3% in constant currency). International sales were driven by sustained growth in emerging nations and robust safety sales.

Estimate Revision Trend

Agreement

The overall trend in estimate revisions for the upcoming quarter is relatively static. Of the 17 analysts covering the stock, there was just one revision (in the upward direction) during the past 7 days. Only one analyst has raised his/her estimate in the past month while one lowered his/her estimate.

With regard to fiscal 2012, there was only one revision (in the downward direction) during the prior week. Over the past month, one analyst has raised his/her estimate while four lowered their estimates. The current Zacks Consensus Estimate for fiscal 2012 is $5.70, reflecting an estimated 1.4% year-over-year growth.

Magnitude

Given the relatively low number of estimate revisions, the magnitude of revisions for the forthcoming quarter and fiscal year has hit a plateau, over the past 7 and 30 days.

Becton Dickinson has reported a positive earnings surprise in only one of the previous four quarters. The company produced a positive earnings surprise of 5.59% in the sequentially preceding quarter and met estimates in the earlier three quarters.

Our Take on Becton Dickinson

We remain cautious about Becton Dickinson due to the lack of major short-term catalysts. The rising demand for safety-needle products (with higher price points and margins) was the primary driver of the company's past growth, which has somewhat bottomed out, given that the U.S. market is already largely penetrated.

On the positive side, Becton Dickinson's preeminent global healthcare products franchise is partly insulated from volatile macroeconomic conditions and structural deficiencies elsewhere in the healthcare delivery field.

Becton Dickinson faces a wide range of competitors, including Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) in certain niches, in each of its three business segments. We are currently Neutral on the stock, supported by a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold).

Source: Becton, Dickinson And Company: Earnings Preview