SonoSite sees positive gains in Q4, year-end
SonoSite, a hand-carried and point-of-care ultrasound developer, reported strong growth in sales and income for its fiscal 2008 fourth quarter and year, which ended Dec. 31.

For the quarter, the Bothell, Wash.-based company reported that worldwide revenue grew to $70.2 million, compared with $64.8 million in the same quarter last year. Full year 2008 revenue grew to $243.5 million, up 19 percent over $205.1 million in 2007.

The company reported a net income increase of 184 percent for the fourth quarter of 2008 to $12.1 million, compared with $4.3 million in the same period last year. For the full year net income grew 199 percent to $20.6 million, compared with $6.9 million in 2007.

Net income in the fourth quarter and full year 2008 included a non-recurring, pre-tax charge of $3 million from terminated acquisition talks and severance payments, as well as a $15.7 million pre-tax gain from the repurchase of $80.3 million of senior convertible notes, SonoSite said.

Total operating expenses in the fourth quarter increased 8 percent to $42.7 million, and increased 7 percent for the full year to $147.4 million, spurred by increased research and development (R&D) expenditures as well as sales, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses. R&D increased in the fourth quarter to $8.1 million compared with $6.2 million in the same period last year. SG&A expenses saw a slight uptick from $33.3 million in 2007 fourth quarter, to $34.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.

At the close of the quarter and year-end, the company reported it held $279.7 million in cash and investments and long-term debt of $144.7 million, for a net liquidity of $135 million.

The company did update its outlook for 2009, according to Kevin M. Goodwin, SonoSite's president and CEO.

"Our goal is to increase operating income at least 10 percent in 2009. To position ourselves for improved profitability in this difficult economic environment we are targeting a 5 percent reduction in our operating expenses from 2008 levels to approximately $140 million. Assuming current exchange rates, foreign currency will have a negative impact of 3 to 4 percent on revenue growth. Given the continued deterioration of the global economic markets and the slowdown in U.S. hospital capital spending, we are not providing revenue or other financial guidance at this time," Goodwin said.