Forget About Life Technologies Corp. (LIFE), Check out This Stock

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The big news in the medical service and device sector is the speculated buyout of Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:LIFE). However, I believe investors could snatch up Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE:A) for a “good” price amid the hype surrounding Life.
Agilent provides bio-analytic and electronic measurement solutions to the communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis industries, meaning it has a bit more of a diversified portfolio, serving not only the life sciences sector, but a number of other fast growing industries.
Only 25% of Agilent’s revenues come from the Life Sciences segment, with the majority (50%) coming from its Electronic Measurement segment, which includes test products, from general purpose instruments to semiconductor and board test solutions, as well as communications test products and services for wireless communications.
The company also has a diversified end market, where its top markets are industrial (21% of revenues), communications (18%) and pharma/biotech (14%).
However, MarketResearch.com is expecting that the “life science tools” market will generate $80 billion by 2016, on the back of innovation and high-end technologies in new applications. Agilent is making strides to become more active in the health care research market, with its acquisition of scientific instruments maker Varian, which is part of management’s strategy of converting the company to a bio-analytical measurement giant.
China is emerging as a major driver for the company, mainly because of its position as a manufacturing destination. Agilent makes test equipment required by manufacturers, which makes China a key market given China has been a prime location for manufacturing operations.
Other notable opportunities in China include the fact that concerns are being raised regarding food safety and testing, which should further boost food safety equipment demand.
Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:LIFE)Although robust research and development and acquisition-related spending might put pressure on its margins and bottom line in the interim, it has historically done well to capitalize on these, with a 5-year average return on investment of 11.7% and a current return on equity of over 20%. Healthcor Management and Greenhaven Associates were two of Agilent’s largest hedge fund owners going into 2013 (check out all the hedge funds owning Agilent).
Major comps

PerkinElmer, Inc. (NYSE:PKI)’s 
two major segments include Human Health (accounting for 49% of sales) and Environmental Health (51%). Human Health includes genetic screening, medical imaging and bio-discovery, while Environmental Health includes analytic sciences, lab services and safety services.
PerkinElmer’s international expansion has helped it grow sales more than 10% the last ten consecutive quarters through the third quarter of 2012, before moderating to 4% growth during the fourth quarter of 2012. Its fall in 4Q 2012 sales growth was due to a high-single digit decline in Europe sales. As a result, PerkinElmer has guided for 2013 sales growth of between 4% and 6% as emerging markets (30% of sales) continue to cancel out European weakness.

Going into 2013 there were 27 hedge funds long the stock, a 7% decline from the previous quarter. Its top hedge fund owners failed to include any top-name billionaire hedge fund managers, with Robert Joseph Caruso’s Select Equity Group having the most valuable position and Chuck Royce of Royce & Associates a close second (check out other hedge funds loving PerkinElmer).

The Wall Street Journal has reported that private equity firms, including Blackstone and the Carlyle Group, plan to put in a bid for Life Technologies Corp. (NASDAQ:LIFE), and the big news was reports claiming that Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE:TMO) had already submitted a bid. Credit Suisse had previously noted that it could take upwards of $75 per share to get the deal done, thus, Life might still be too cheap (see why).
Life’s portfolio includes systems, instruments, software and custom services for making bio-discovery research techniques more effective and efficient for pharmaceutical and biotech. However, there are a number of competitors in its life sciences market. Its recent high-profile launch of the Ion Proton system is also seeing an influx of competition from other players in the DNA sequencing market. Illumina plans to launch its HiSeq 2500 in the fourth quarter of 2012, and Oxford Nanopore Technologies’s MinION (a disposable DNA sequencing device the size of a USB memory stick) is in the queue.
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